While NYC Marathon runners will hit the city streets this weekend, Whitestone resident Brendan Flynn still has three weeks to train for his big day.
Flynn is running the Philadelphia Marathon for the first time on Sunday, Nov. 22. And his goal is not only to cross the finish line, but also to raise awareness and funds for a cause close to his heart: the pro-life movement.
The St. Luke’s parishioner is dedicating the run to his local crisis pregnancy center, The Bridge to Life in Flushing. He hopes to raise $2,000 for the nonprofit center, and has launched a GoFundMe campaign (“Raising $ for Crisis Pregnancy Cntr”) so supporters can donate online.
“We all have a natural law written in our hearts. We know what’s right and wrong,” said Flynn, 45, a husband and father of two young children. “Being Catholic, I’ve always known abortion is wrong.”
But that reality didn’t hit home until he attended his first March for Life in 2009.
After almost missing the bus to Washington, D.C., he spent the day absorbing the atmosphere, listening to testimonies and learning about “the culture of death.” He even found himself praying the rosary, something he hadn’t done in years.
What he experienced resonated with the Catholic faith he learned from his Irish immigrant parents, and from his schooling at Holy Family School and Holy Cross H.S., both Flushing. It also resonated with his career choice to serve and protect his fellow New Yorkers as a firefighter, and now lieutenant of Engine 235 in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Flynn saw her words as an affirmation and a challenge.
“It changed my life,” he said. “I realized it’s not enough just to pray in the privacy of our homes” or churches.
The next day, he called a woman he met on the bus, Catherine Donohoe, president of the board of directors for The Bridge to Life, to ask how he could help.
Through the years, Flynn and his wife have donated gently used baby clothes and other essentials. But he has continually felt called to do more.
“I don’t know if it was the endorphins or the Holy Spirit,” he said, “but I figured I’d use this to do something good.”
He set $2,000 as his initial fundraising goal. As of Oct. 27, he was a quarter of the way there with 11 pledges totaling $565.
“We’re very proud that he’s chosen to support us,” Donohoe said. Whatever funds are raised will go toward a new advertising campaign on bus stops and trains “so young women will know there’s a place they can go.”
The Bridge to Life assists about 4,000 women each year according to Donohoe. On a recent week in October, 40 women arrived at the center looking for help.
Thee pro-life movement faces strong opposition in Queens with Choices Medical Center in Jamaica providing thousands of abortions annually, and a newly opened Planned Parenthood Center in Long Island City, set to do the same.
Even after Flynn crosses the finish line Nov. 22, the race to save babies’ lives continues, and he plans to keep moving forward with efforts to assist mothers and children in his Queens community.