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'Choose Life' license plates in Virginia

Is your vehicle one of the 5,408 on Virginia roads proudly sporting the “Choose Life” license plate? You know, the bright yellow one with the two adorable kids smiling back? If so, you have helped raise $754,695 for pro-life pregnancy centers in the commonwealth since the plates were first issued in 2009, according to Richmond Coalition for Life.

In addition to the prescribed fee for state license plates, the specialty plates cost an annual fee of $25, of which $15 is distributed to pro-life 501(c)(3) entities who meet the requirements established by Heartbeat International of Columbus, Ohio, the administrator of the funds.

Many drivers have decided to enhance their dedication to the pro-life cause by taking their plates to the next level by adding a message. These so-called “vanity” plates, available to all drivers, cost an additional $10. The messages, limited to six characters, are often an ingenious way to share the faith or to uphold the pro-life movement. You may have seen examples on the roads like “CATHLK,” “30 AD” or “PAPIST.”

Scott and Caryn Vezina of Fredericksburg settled on “PRY4LF” after trying different combinations. “We believed a message of ‘Pray for Life’ wouldn’t be controversial and would get the message across that we wanted to communicate,” Scott said. They have found out that, while many people have thanked and complimented them, not everyone appreciates their idea. In addition to receiving some harsh comments, their car has been “keyed” more than once.

Their fellow parishioners at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Fredericksburg Janett and Matthew Prohaska also are proud to have a similar straightforward message: “RI2LIF.”

Paula Husselmann’s “KP ME” vanity plate came about when she was driving north on I-95 about eight years ago and spotted “KEEP ME” on a passing car. “My soul was truly touched by the Lord,” said Husselmann, “and I knew God wanted me to get a variation of this plate.” Like others, she has had both positive and negative reactions to KP ME.

Kathleen Wilson is the director of Mary’s Shelter and her pro-life plate is often spotted around the Fredericksburg area. Her husband gets the credit, she says, for coming up with “1SHLTR.”

In explaining why she opted for the pro-life license plates, Elaine Stanislawski said: “It was my way of showing support for life, especially in thanksgiving that our youngest son’s birth mother chose life and made it possible for us to adopt him.” Like so many others, her family took the additional step of personalization. Her “JN6V35” can often be seen at St. Mary where Stanislawski is the parish business manager. She shared that the Biblical reference is her way of showing her “love of the Eucharist, the basis for our Catholic Faith.”

The list of beneficiaries from the fund is long, with many groups familiar names in the diocese. Among them is A Woman’s Choice in Herndon and Falls Church; New Eve Maternity Home in Winchester; the Front Royal Pregnancy Center; Mary’s Shelter in Fredericksburg; and the Paul Stefan Foundation.

Randy James of Paul Stefan reported receiving a check for $4,188 this past year. “It’s important for readers to realize by getting these plates how much they help here on the ground,” he said.

It doesn’t take much effort or money to join the legion of drivers showing off their pro-life sentiments with these specialized license plates. All it takes is the courage of one’s convictions — and $25.

Mahoney is a freelance writer from Fredericksburg.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019