Protecting Black Life at the Tokyo Marathon
Loveland (OH) resident Milton Svetanics will be praying through Sunday’s Tokyo Marathon, as he does at every Marathon he runs. But this time, he’s letting everyone know.
“There are more than 300,000 applicants to the Tokyo Marathon lottery, and they only select 35,500 runners,” he says. “It was a miracle that I got in.”
He decided to share that miracle by asking others to pray and act too, picking a cause close to his heart: abortions in African-American communities. It’s a cause that caught his attention in 2009, a year before he took up running, when he heard Pastor Arnold Culbreath interviewed on Sacred Heart Radio and discovered that abortion is the leading cause of death among African Americans.
“I worked with Pastor Arnold and LaTonia Jackson at Protecting Black Life to come up with a race shirt design for Tokyo,” he says. “I also wrote a dedication statement and posted it on Facebook. My goal is to shed light on the issue of eugenics, and to somehow get my letter on the desk of President Obama.”
Svetanics is not a stranger to either Japan (his wife is Japanese) or Marathons (he’s run four since 2011). He has worked to help end abortion since his father told him about a vision he had when near death — you can read the story in his dedication statement — and he’s written to President Obama asking him to help keep minority communities alive.
“African Americans are the only minority in America that is on the decline in population,” he told the president. “If the current trend continues, the black community may cease to make a significant positive contribution in society.”
Though Svetanics never heard from the president, he hopes that his run in Tokyo will change that. He’s asking supporters to write to President Obama about the issue, and to buy their own copy of the t-shirt he’ll be wearing in the Tokyo Marathon. Proceeds will benefit Protecting Black Life.
Can a caucasian man praying for black American families across the ocean in Japan make a difference? Stranger things have happened. Svetanics knows the impact one person can have on the world, if it’s the right person, in the right place, at the right time. And he knows that prayer can change everything.
“I take all of my dedications very seriously,” says Svetanics, who took up running in 2010 after losing 100 pounds following gastric band surgery. The effort of making that change in his health led to a change in his prayer life as well. “Working out was hard, and I figured that as long as I was out there expending my blood, sweat and tears, I didn’t want it to be in vain. So I started praying in general, and then began praying for specific people or causes. I chose uphill, hard speed workouts as a way to give to somebody else that needed it more than me. It took me back to the words of my mother; she always told me, ‘just offer it up.’ So that is what I did.”
How to order a t-shirt:
To order a two-sided, Protecting Black Life Tokyo Marathon t-shirt, click on this link. You must have a PayPal account to order. Shirts are available in sizes XS – XL; add $2 for XXL or larger. The link will ask you for the email address of the person you want to send money to; paste in this address: firstname.lastname@example.org and write $28 (shipping included) as the amount. Add more if you want to make a larger donation. IMPORTANT: The final page asks if you would like to send a note to the recipient. This is where you write your name, address, and the size you want.
Photo courtesy Milton Svetanics.
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