It was at the West Coast Walk for Life, which for the past 13 Januarys has drawn tens of thousands of pro-life supporters to San Francisco, Linda Mertes first heard of 40 Days for Life.
Linda Mertes' involvement began with an hour, on July 5, 2013, when she and her future daughter-in-law stood in front of the Planned Parenthood office in Mertes' San Ramon neighborhood. They found the location by using Google.
"We saw several young couples going in," she said. "It broke our hearts."
On a later visit, Mertes worked up the courage to offer a brochure to a young woman, whose eyes, she recalled, "filled with tears."
She launched a 40 Days for Life campaign on the public right-of-way near that San Ramon Planned Parenthood location. It was a 16-hour-a-day effort for 40 days.
"We met the most incredible people, she said. "They're so feisty, so humble and so prayerful. They have such faith."
The campaign has since moved to the public right-of-way near the Planned Parenthood office in Walnut Creek, where medical and surgical abortions are offered.
A group has stood vigil at that office faithfully on Fridays for about 20 years, Mertes said.
A kick-off rally on Sept. 24 in the gym at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish Gym, 2039 Mount Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek will (preceded) this fall's 40 Days for Life.
Speakers will include Rev. Walter Hoye, the Issues4Life founder; Teresa Burgess of Silent No More, a program sponsored by Priests for Life; and Blayne Wittig, executive director of Options for Women of California, a pregnancy counseling center in Concord.
Wittig's organization has an ultrasound bus, which rally-goers can have a look at on Sept. 24. That bus has been parked several times near the Planned Parenthood office, Mertes said.
The rally will begin at 5:30 p.m. with appetizers and a chance to look at the bus, with speakers at 6 p.m. Donations will be accepted.
On Sept. 27, the vigil begins, on the public right-of-way outside 1357 Oakland Blvd., Walnut Creek. At least two people will keep vigil from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, except Sunday, through Nov. 5.
Mertes asks that vigil participants sign up at 40daysforlife.com/walnutcreek or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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