FORMER SEX TRAFFICKING VICTIM CYNTOIA BROWN-LONG TO KEYNOTE ONELIFE LA 2020
—Speakers and performers will address tens of thousands at Los Angeles Historic Park about celebrating the beauty and dignity of every human life on January 18—
Former victim of teenage sex trafficking Cyntoia Brown-Long, who spent 15 years in prison starting at the age of 16, and other inspiring speakers will join Archbishop José H. Gomez at the sixth annual OneLife LA, on January 18, 2020, at Los Angeles Historic Park in downtown Los Angeles, for a large-scale event uniting people of all backgrounds in Southern California to celebrate the beauty and dignity of every human life from conception to natural death.
“OneLife LA is not an event, it is a movement,” said Archbishop Gomez. “It is a movement of love that sees in every person the beauty of God’s creation, a child of God. Love is the reason for our lives, and love is the reason we commit ourselves to defending the child in the womb, the poor and the homeless, the prisoner and the sick, the elderly and the disabled, mothers in crisis and young people in need of foster care. I hope to see many new people joining us on January 18 for this great celebration of love and life.”
OneLife seeks to promote a culture of life, where every human life is dignified, especially the most vulnerable and underserved. The 2020 event will begin at noon with a walk led by Archbishop Gomez from the birthplace of the city at Olvera Street to the new Los Angeles State Historic Park. It will include a roster of international and national voices sharing their personal and life-affirming stories.
Keynote speaker Cyntoia Brown-Long is an author, speaker, and advocate for criminal justice reform. Born to an alcoholic, teenage mother who was a victim of sex trafficking, Cyntoia experienced a sense of isolation, low self-esteem, and alienation that drove her straight into the hands of a predator. She also became a victim of sex trafficking and at the age of 16 was arrested for killing a man who had solicited her for sex. She was tried as an adult and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 51 years. In prison, Cyntoia’s life took a dramatic turn when the prison education principal took her under her wing and introduced her to a spiritual path. Her sentence was commuted by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and she was released from prison in Nashville, Tennesee, on August 7, 2019. Her memoir, “Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System,” written while in prison, documents her early years and the 15 years she was incarcerated.
Other speakers and performers include:
- Jess Echeverry, whose testimony includes dark times of physical and sexual violence, teenage pregnancy and years of on and off homelessness. She is the founder and Executive Director of SOFESA, a non-profit ministry that has been serving Southern California homeless and low-income children and their families since 1999.
- Daniel Ritchie is a speaker and an armless writer from Huntersville, NC. Daniel’s parents were told at his birth that he was ‘incompatible with life’ but his parents refused to believe the naysayers, and now Daniel spends his life helping others see the beauty and dignity of their lives.
- Francis Cabildo is a singer-songwriter, worship leader and speaker from Southern California. He has served the Church as a youth minister, music minister, high school campus minister and inspiring speaker.
- Gia Chacón is best known for her passionate speaking and empowering messages on living out one’s purpose. Currently, she sits as the Pro-Life Director of Bienvenido, an organization that promotes the values of faith, family, and freedom within the Hispanic community. Daily, she impacts culture through the media as “Genuinely Gia.”
- AJ Casillas is a Middle School Religion teacher in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. His love for the Church really took a turning point when he served as a missionary for NET Ministries (National Evangelization Teams) for 5 years, traveling across the country spreading the Gospel to the young people of America.
- Stephanie Gray is an international pro-life presenter from Vancouver, Canada, who has traveled the world speaking to medical, legal, political, and university audiences. In 2017 she presented at Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA, on the topic “Abortion: From Controversy to Civility.” The YouTube recording went viral and is part of the 200 popular uploads out of more than 4,000 “Talks at Google.”
- Marcela Luevanos is a survivor of Route 91, the largest mass shooting in the U.S., which led her to advocate for mental health, on top of mentoring students, participating in toy drives, radio-thons, special city campaigns and speaking at leadership and empowerment events in LA. The Burbank native is a Los Angeles and national radio personality. In 2019 she launched her podcast “Y así las cosas, con Marcela Luevanos.”
- JC Cuevas is a TV personality and a radio host specialized in Pop and Regional Mexican genres. For the last five years he has been the audio producer of commercials and the host of the weekend radio show “El Top Regional con JC Cuevas,” which airs in more than 50 stations in the U.S.
“Our theme this year is ‘One Family: One Mission’. In six years, OneLife LA has grown into a family, and our annual gathering is a time to tell the stories of the good work we do throughout LA all year long,” said Kathleen Domingo, senior director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace, spearheading the event. “It is like a family reunion! We’ll have amazing speakers sharing their stories, a brand-new OneLife LA Award, and new opportunities for involvement. Our mission is love, and our OneLife LA family is called to transform the world!”
For more information on 2020 OneLife LA speakers and more details, visit https://onelifela.org/event-details/. OneLife LA was first celebrated on January 17, 2015. OneLife LA 2019 drew tens of thousands to downtown Los Angeles in celebration of the beauty and dignity of every human life. For more on 2019 highlights visit https://onelifela.org/about/
https://www.youtube.com/user/1lifela, and follow #OneLifeLA.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the largest Archdiocese in the United States with approximately five million Catholics. For the latest news, events and to subscribe for media alerts visit media.la-archdiocese.org. Follow us on social media using @LACatholics on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Video archives and footage of Masses celebrated by Archbishop José H. Gomez are also available.