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These students traveled over 1,500 miles to lead the March for Life

Pro-life demonstrators march towards the US Supreme Court during the 44th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C, on Jan. 27, 2017. (Tasos Katopodis//AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — A small Catholic university in North Dakota sent a caravan of buses to Washington, D.C., in order to lead the 44th annual March for Life on Friday.

About 600 students, staff and friends of the University of Mary traveled more than 1,500 miles to carry the banner that would lead the March for Life.

In an interview with TheBlaze on Tuesday, Katrina Gallic, a senior at the University of Mary, said the school was selected to lead the March for Life after last year’s event, when they were stranded on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for more than 20 hours during a blizzard on their way home.

When the University of Mary was selected to lead the 2017 March, school administrators pointed to their students' resilience and dedication to the pro-life cause — as well as the increased awareness the story of their journey home brought to the 2016 event.

Gallic said that this year, University of Mary students made a 30-hour pilgrimage to the nation’s capital for the March for Life — and a 30-hour trek home.

“Just over 60 hours on a bus all together,” she said. “It’s awesome though.”

Gallic addressed the March for Life crowd at a rally prior to the March, telling participants how to go about building a culture of life.

“My message really was being pro-life has to be something that goes beyond just policies, it has to be something that is a matter of the heart, and how we treat each person with the dignity and respect that their humanity demands,” Gallic said, adding: "This is something the movement lives out every day."

“This really is a movement founded in love, and respect for all of human life,” Gallic said. “We’re going with the hope to spark a change in laws and policies to reflect the truth about human life, but also deeper than that, to spark a change within each of our hearts, to live this out daily, to treat every life with the dignity and respect that they deserve.”

Gallic said it was an honor for her school to be selected and for her to address the crowd.

“I spent most of the rally behind the stage,” she told TheBlaze. “So while everyone was looking at the speakers, I was able to look at the crowd, and able to see their faces just full of joy, and really get a sense of the energy of the crowd. … To be able to stand back before speaking and take that in was really incredible.”

Gallic was even invited by the vice president’s office to a reception at the White House with Vice President Mike Pence, an invitation she had to decline because the buses were still hours away from Washington and would not arrive in time.

“I should have asked them to send a jet,” she joked.

Jerome Richter, the vice president for public affairs at University of Mary, said he was proud of Gallic and the other students who participated in the March for life.

“We know that we’re not the biggest school, but it’s very much what Katrina expressed in her speech, that it’s got to start with us,” Richter said. “Even though we’re small, we’re asked to be faithful.”

The caravan made it home safely after the March, after a much less eventful drive than last year.

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