A trip of historic proportions which morphed into an even more historical event when about 30 Southeast Kansas students and sponsors survived one of the worst snowstorms in the history of Washington, D.C.
The student group was hosted by the Catholic Diocese of Wichita and included nine bus loads with more than 300 students from throughout the diocese who were headed to the March for Life on Friday to commemorate the anniversary of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision on abortion, according to Caryn Dawson Normand. This was her fourth trip as a chaperone for the annual outing which Crawford County area students participate in.
About 24 inches of snow fell on the nation's capitol over the weekend crippling transportation and shutting down many businesses and government offices, she said. Fortunately the group was able to participate in the 43rd Annual March for Life on Friday prior to the worst of the blizzard.
Normand said 23 students from St. Mary's-Colgan school made the trip as did students from Frontenac and one from Girard High School.
Brock Jameson, a senior from St. Mary's-Colgan, was among those students.
"That was the most snow I've ever seen," Jameson said, Monday during a telephone interview as the buses were on the road heading home.
He said the weather on the road Monday was better with no snow in sight for the travelers who are due back in Pittsburg Tuesday evening.
While the group got in some sightseeing on Thursday prior to Friday's march, plans for getting out of the hotel over the weekend were cancelled.
"We had to stay at the hotel but the chaperones and the hotel staff really went out of their way to come up with things to do," Jameson said. "We did line dancing, watched movies, attended mass and got to play outside and have a snowball fight."
Cooper Puckett, a senior from Girard High School, said the group was told on Thursday their participation in the March for Life was being cancelled. That news was a big disappointment.
"We were told to pack up and be ready to go on Friday morning so we could beat the storm."
The best part of the trip for him was finding out first thing Friday morning plans had changed and the students were going to participate in the march afterall.
"That was the part that stood out the most about the trip, that we actually got to march," Puckett said.
While the march started without snow, by the time the walk was finished the students were seeing snowflakes falling.
By Saturday the group was snow-bound at the hotel and participating in one of largest recorded snowfalls in Washington, D.C., history.
"We still had a blast," Puckett said. Jameson also said in spite of the snowfall hampering the trip he was glad to participate.
"We braved the storm and helped share the message of hope at the march and the rally," Jameson said. "We got to be the voice for all the aborted babies that don't have a voice."
Normand said compared to the three previous March for Life trips she has been on the crowd was considerably smaller due to the weather.
"But there were still thousands at the march," she said. "Everybody's goal was to show support for aborted babies and we got to do that."
— Mike Elswick is a staff writer for The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ mike_elswick.