New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
Now that October’s here, Naomi Savage couldn’t wait to get dressed up and hit the streets.
But it wasn’t a fairy princess costume and a Halloween treat bag for this 5-year-old. Instead, Naomi donned a coat, hat and gloves and grabbed a cardboard sign to participate in yesterday’s 20th annual downtown Life Chain.
Each year, the pro-life vigil asks participants to gather on Kennedy Square for a 30-minute service of music and prayer. After that, each person takes a sign or banner bearing a message that supports an unborn child’s right to life and stands silently around the square or along Jefferson Street for 60 minutes.
Yesterday, 113 people braved a steady rain to take part in New Castle, while 43 and 33 turned out for similar events in Ellwood City and New Wilmington, respectively.
Naomi was in New Castle for last year’s event, too, and according to her father, couldn’t wait for the day to come around again.
“We were here last year in the rain,” Curt Savage said. “She held a sign, and she was here asking, ‘Why do they want to kill babies? I would love to have a sister. They can just bring the babies to our house.’
“She truly has a heart for little kids. I think she totally gets it.”
Curt Savage said his son, who works in a Verizon store in Bridgeville, gave Naomi an old Blackberry after last year’s chain. Once she figured out how the calendar worked, she marked Oct. 7, saying “Next year, I want to go stand on the square with my sign to help save babies again.”
For Curt, Naomi is reason enough for him to participate. His wife, Sharon, was 43 when she was pregnant with their daughter, and doctors urged them to have tests to check for possible birth defects.
“When you get older for pregnancies, there can be problems,” Curt said. “They said it was likely, and they went through all the percentages — 80 percent chance of this, 90 percent chance of that. We said, ‘Well, God made her and we’ll take her, and we’ll let God handle everything else.’
“She’s just a blessing, a beautiful child — and one that statistics said shouldn’t be here. But praise God, she is. Statistics can be what they are, but God is the God of statistics, too.”
Life Chain itself might not be here were it not for the efforts of Fern Heckert, who established New Castle’s version of the national event 20 years ago as director of the Crisis Pregnancy Center, which then was under the umbrella of the City Rescue Mission. She was recognized prior to the start of yesterday’s event, as were 12 pastors who worked with her to get the ball rolling.
There have been some changes in the event since then; most notably, the numbers. Diane Marcella, president of the local chapter of People Concerned for the Unborn Child, pointed out that 1,239 local residents — or 1,126 more than yesterday — took part in the first local Life Chain in 1992.
However, Life Chains in New Wilmington and Ellwood also have arisen over the past two decades. Dori McElwain is the coordinator of Ellwood’s, and Jan Booth and Janet Lutz set up the event in New Wilmington, where Rob and Mickey Cypher offered prayer and Matthew Greenawalt led music. All are pastors at Victory Christian Center.
In New Castle, Karen Hamrick organized the Life Chain, while T.R. Walker sang and the Rev. Kris Kauffman of Family Worship Center led in prayer.