By Randy Paige

LOS ANGELES ( — A crowd gathered in Downtown L.A. Tuesday night to light 101 candles, each representing a baby, to celebrate the children whose lives have been saved by the Safe Surrender Law.

It was a celebration of life born out of unspeakable tragedy and the silent voices of the children who did not survive.

Fourteen years ago, Debi Faris began fighting for these children after hearing on the news about a murdered baby left in a duffle bag on the side of the freeway.

(credit: CBS)

Faris claimed the body, named him Matthew and buried him at a cemetery in Calimesa. She would go on to claim many other babies whose lives were taken from them. Each was given a funeral service.

As the number of tombstones grew in the cemetery so did Faris’ resolve to have California pass a law that would allow desperate mothers to surrender their babies without facing criminal prosecution.

The Safe Surrender Law was passed in 2001.

“Baby Matthew was the first. What would you tell him today?” CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Randy Paige said to Faris.

(credit: CBS)

“I would just say, ‘Look it, baby, your life counted. Look at all the changes that have been made because of you,’” Faris said.

There are now Safe Surrender laws in every state. Many were adopted through the efforts of Faris.

Program supporters held their candles alight Tuesday as a testament to the 101 children who have been saved in L.A. County alone.

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