Ron Konopaski, 86, a longtime leader of 40 Days for Life prayer campaigns outside Planned Parenthood clinics in San Francisco, was awarded 40 Days for Life’s Leader of the Year award Aug. 2 at its summer leadership training symposium in Houston, Texas.

Konopaski, a San Francisco resident and Star of the Sea parishioner who has led 40 Days for Life campaigns for about 11 years, told Catholic San Francisco it was “a shock” to receive the award.

“I wasn’t expecting that for sure,” he said.

Kristin Nill, a spokeswoman for 40 Days for Life, said Konopaski was “well deserving” of the award.

“Earlier this year Ron was harassed, kicked and told to stay down by a man trying to steal his banner while he peacefully stood outside an abortion clinic, she said. “Ron could’ve listened and stopped his efforts to save lives but instead he did the opposite. He refused to let the attack deter him and continued to show up just days later. Because of Ron’s resilience, two babies were saved from abortion.”

Konopaski received a personalized 40 Days for Life jacket with his award, along with a T-shirt reading “I won’t stay down” — a message referring to the incident March 14 outside a Planned Parenthood clinic on Valencia Street in San Francisco.

The attacker was seen on video repeatedly kicking Konopaski, who was 85 at the time, and demanding, “stay on the ground, old man.”

Konopaski said the T-shirt’s message of resistance has “sort of become my motto now.”

Pro-life activism came later in life for Konopaski. “In fact, in the early days I was pretty ignorant,” he said. When the Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade in 1973 the U.S. Constitution protected abortion, he didn’t think much about it. Over the years, that changed, especially under the influence of a friend, Brian Kavanaugh, who introduced him to pro-life activism.

– from an Aug 14 story in Catholic San Francisco