Happy Human Trafficking Awareness Day!
For the second year in a row, I’ve had the honor of joining a couple hundred warriors running in the 2015 Run For Their Lives Walk/5k here in Knoxville. The event by Freedom 424 and The Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking is held around the country to raise awareness about the horrors of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. On a local level, events like this raise money for better first responder training, relief efforts, and awareness in our community. They also fight for the rescue and support of victims both here in the States an other countries that have Freedom 424 programs.
Despite the freezing cold weather, we had hundreds of outstanding folks run with us this morning in the name of Freedom. Local churches, running teams, athletes, and regular folks just like me took over Market Square and the downtown area in Knoxville. We shared the names of 3 remarkable young survivors who escaped Sexual Slavery and with their stories, we kept warm during the race.
My job as a volunteer was to (try) and make sure every runner had a story to run for. Of course, the turnout was extraordinary. So, we didn’t get to everyone before the start of the race. All the survivors had a beautiful story card written in the reception room, so after the race, runners could go in and warm up, hear some great music, and celebrate such wonderful stories! We were reminded that our 3 names just represented a huge presence of injustice and abuse around the world.
Two of our honorees were from Virginia, USA and India. The third woman’s story stood out to me particularly because she is from Knoxville, Tennessee – My home town. She is currently my age, 20. And she was just a regular girl from a middle class home in my town. I encourage you to look up Sarah/Human Trafficking/Knoxville to read for yourself how very evident the problem of human trafficking is. Even here, in our own hometowns, in our suburbs, absent in our schools, we have individuals fighting for their body, rights, and dignity,
Thanks to the work of Freedom 424 and the passion from individuals willing to run in 14 degree temperatures, we can get this message out to those men, women, and children wherever they are.
Help is on the way.
You are not alone.
For a video of the crowd taking off, swing by here!
Photo Credits: Julie Sanders and Phoebe Spooner