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Record-breaking number of students prepare to ‘March for Life‘ in D.C.

| Friday, January 19, 2018

Over 1,000 Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross College students and community members will be marching in Washington, D.C. on Friday as part of the 45th March for Life.

Founded in 1974 to peacefully protest the Roe v. Wade decision — a Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States — the March for Life is an annual organized march to the Supreme Court building held on or around the anniversary of the 1973 decision.

Observer File Photo

Students rally for March for Life in front of Main Building in January 2016, as the trip was cancelled due to weather that year. A record number of students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross are taking buses to participate in this year’s march this weekend.

The Notre Dame Right to Life club has organized trips to D.C. to allow students and faculty to march alongside hundreds of thousands of attendees from across the nation. The club’s president, senior Sarah Drumm, said attending the march revitalizes the pro-life movement by showing students they are not alone in their beliefs.

“The March for Life is a unique event in the sense that it allows us to take part in the national movement for life and really take a step outside of South Bend,” she said. “Having the opportunity to go and march with thousands of other individuals who are just as passionate as we are about supporting and protecting life, especially the most vulnerable, is just a really powerful and inspiring thing.”

According to the March for Life website, the two-hour march starts at the National Mall and will feature a rally, a musical performance and speeches by President Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, various members of Congress and Pamela Tebow, the mother of NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, amongst others.

With support from sponsors such as Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture, Drumm said the March for Life commission within Notre Dame Right to Life sent 19 charter buses carrying an approximated, record-breaking 1,050 students and faculty to D.C. Thursday evening to participate in today’s march.

“I think the fact that Notre Dame sends hundreds of students every year really does make a statement,” she said. “I know the media doesn’t talk about the march a lot, but the more students we send the more likely we are to get noticed. I think it shows that this an issue that Notre Dame really does care about.”

One of the March for Life head commissioners, junior Nick Gabriele, said the trip includes putting rosaries on the buses, attending a mass with University President Fr. John Jenkins before the march and a Saturday morning mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C.

”[The trip] is really a pilgrimage,” Gabriele said. “We’re going in a spirit of prayer and respect for life so it’s going to be a fun trip; everyone’s getting prepared and offering it up for a greater respect for life.”

Beginning last spring, Gabriele said, the commission focused on hitting the 1,000 mark of attendees this year by putting “a lot of ground effort” into advertising the event across campus with posters, dorm representatives and through the use of other outlets to reach people. Both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s participants will be granted excused absences from Friday classes.

“We know that the Notre Dame community is just so excited about it,” Gabriele said. “Because we hit that four-digit number, it’s now more than 10 percent of the undergraduate population going which is unbelievable. It really speaks to the importance of the issue to people here on campus.”

Gabriele said this will be his fourth year participating in the march and the atmosphere is always comprised of a joyful, happy crowd of people from all kinds of backgrounds.

“I’m excited for all the people I’m going to meet and all the people that everyone’s going to meet,” Gabriele said. “To just be a part of the energy that is there — it’s really something that you can’t explain; you can’t describe until you go and it’s something so special. I get the chills every year just being a part of it and I can’t wait to do it again.”

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About Kelli Smith

Kelli Smith is a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame. Originally from El Paso, Texas, she is currently serving as Associate News Editor at the Observer and is pursuing a double major in political science and film, television and theatre with minors in journalism and computing.

Contact Kelli