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PONTIAC -- A year ago, 20 members of the St. Mary's Church youth group boarded a train for Washington, D.C., to participate in the March for Life. The experience left such an impact that the group wanted to make it an annual event.

"Unfortunately, to put a trip together like that is so expensive, it just cannot be done every year," said group leader Jim Woolford.

Instead, the youngsters decided to organize a parade in Pontiac.

"I was very impressed that they felt so strongly about their experience last year that they decided to do something so they could still participate," Woolford said.

March for Life is an annual anti-abortion rally held near the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Last year's event drew more than 400,000 people.

"When you are from a small community like Pontiac, it's difficult to understand the concept of that many people in one place," Woolford said. "It was pretty profound and was a terrific experience for the youth and for the adults who also went."

The local March begins at 1 p.m. Sunday, traveling from Central Elementary School to the courthouse and then to St. Mary's. It is sponsored by the church's junior and senior high youth groups.

"The kids who went on the trip were just overwhelmed with the event and I think they felt a responsibility to draw attention to pro-life movement and this is their way of doing that," said church secretary Patti Zehr.

Woolford secured a parade permit and permission to assemble in the school parking lot. Speakers at the courthouse will be followed by cookies and hot chocolate.

"The great thing about this is that the kids have taken a huge role in organizing it and talking with their friends and family about this issue and what it means to participate," Woolford said. "It's a free event. It's only about three blocks and it's a great way to support this cause."

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