When Shea was just 16 years old, she became pregnant. As a teenage girl with her entire life ahead of her, she felt pressured to get an abortion — but she was conflicted, feeling she was not ready to parent a child, yet knowing there was an innocent life growing inside of her.One day the answer suddenly became crystal clear: instead of opting for an abortion, Shea chose to embrace life — together with the gift of adoption.“I made the decision to go through with the pregnancy and to give her the life that God had intended for her,” Shea told a crowd of nearly 8,000 people of all ages, faiths and ethnic backgrounds from the greater Los Angeles area, who gathered at Dodger Stadium Nov. 18 for “go2bat4LIFE.” “Going through that whole process was a little scary,” said Shea, who is currently a junior at Baylor University in Texas. Because she opted for an open adoption, she has the blessing of knowing that her daughter is “healthy and happy” with her adoptive family. “I don’t have any regrets,” Shea told the audience. “God had already picked out her parents on the day that I conceived.”LIFEsocal, a charitable organization founded by Los Angeles-area students and families, presented “go2bat4LIFE,” which seeks to strengthen young people in their pro-life convictions. The event featured church leaders, pro-life advocates, personal testimonials and even notable celebrities — including pre-recorded video greetings presented via DodgerVision by baseball legends Tommy Lasorda and Vin Scully.Among those on hand to help inspire the crowd were Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, retired Bishop Joseph Sartoris, broadcaster Jaime Jarrin, Baptist Pastor Walter Hoye II, orthodox Rabbi Dov Fischer, “For Greater Glory” actors Mauricio Kuri and Eduardo Verastegui, musical guests Christafari and Lincoln Brewster, and many others.“This is a beautiful day for us to celebrate life, love and the family — and to renew our commitment to Jesus and his Gospel of life,” said Archbishop Gomez during his opening prayer, noting that Jesus “came into this world as an unborn child in his mother’s womb.”“Jesus came to us for one reason — so that we may have life, and have life abundantly,” said the archbishop. “God wants every child to be welcomed and loved. He wants every family to be a holy family, and God wants all of us to live in a world where life is celebrated as something special, as something sacred.”For actor Verastegui, sharing his pro-life beliefs has become a way of life, both personally and professionally. He co-founded Metanoia Films, a production company dedicated to producing spiritually-rich films. As research for the company’s first movie, “Bella” — which has a strong pro-life message — he joined a pro-life rally outside an abortion clinic, where he met a couple seeking an abortion. After speaking with him for over an hour, the couple had a change of heart and went on to have their baby — who they named Eduardo.“I never thought in a million years that by doing my homework as an actor I was going to end up being used as an instrument to save the life of this beautiful baby,” said Verastegui. “I went to the hospital to meet him and the way he was looking at me was a life-changing experience.”So much so that he went on to establish Manto de Guadalupe, a pro-life organization based in Los Angeles that offers free medical assistance for underprivileged pregnant women. To date, the organization has served more than 2,000 women.“Every year more than 45 million babies are killed by abortion and there is no greater injustice than to deny an unborn baby the right to be born,” added Verastegui. “I pray to God that our generation will defeat the culture of death… Together we can make a difference.”Another event speaker shared a particularly poignant personal testimony. At age 12, Liana was raped by two men and became pregnant. Liana, who was from a broken home and had already endured much family strife, decided to have and keep her baby.“The doctors told me I should have an abortion, that my baby would always remind me what I went through,” noted Liana (who, like Shea, requested that her full name be withheld). “But I asked them, ‘If I have an abortion, will I forget the rape?’“Having my little girl gave me hope and she helped me to go on after the rape. It wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it. My little girl became the light that I needed in my life.”Admittedly, despite having the light and love of her child, Liana floundered emotionally for many years, until she sought refuge in spiritual counseling and eventually converted to Catholicism. Today she is a parishioner at St. Peter Chanel Church in Hawaiian Gardens, and her “baby girl” is now a 22-year-old young woman. Liana now finds solace and strength in her faith and in talking about her experiences as a rape victim and young mother. She shares her personal story and pro-life message both as a speaker and as a one-on-one counselor/life coach for teens.“It took years for me to heal,” Liana told The Tidings. “God gave me the strength I needed.”In addition to listening to speakers and live music, attendees also participated in a group walk around the perimeter of Dodger Stadium; visited two dozen booths providing information about various pro-life organizations; and enjoyed a variety of carnival-style games. Proceeds from game ticket sales will benefit local pro-life ministries. For more information about LIFEsocal, visit www.facebook.com/LIFEsocal, or call LIFEsocal at (626) 755-7323. {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/1130/lifeevent/{/gallery}