Hope and excitement filled the air as more than 2,000 people gathered at Lynchburg College Saturday, Oct. 12 to participate in the Freedom 4/24 Run for Their Lives race.
According to relevantmagazine.com, Freedom 4/24 is an organization that collects money in $24 increments to buy young girls around the world a night of freedom from sexual slavery. Registration for the race buys a young girl the chance to be ministered to in a Freedom 4/24 safe house, where they are given the chance to live permanently.
According to freedom424.org, this is the 5th annual Run for Their Lives race in Lynchburg, which consisted of a 1k Kids Fun Run and a 5k run/walk. Fifty kids participated in the fun run, and more than 1,000 people participated in the 5k.
According to Freedom 4/24 President and Executive Director Tim Spaulding, the outcome of the race was fantastic.
Runners said the hills on the course were challenging, but it was all worth it in the end.
“The course was much harder than I thought it would be,” participant Kylie McMichael said. “The hills were worse than the ones on Liberty University’s campus, which is where I usually run, but it was worth it.”
Sara Hunt, a former human trafficking victim, spoke before the race began and encouraged runners with her story of being saved from human trafficking.
Hunt encouraged women who are going through a tough time to lean on Jesus and establish a good support system.
Every year, runners are encouraged by Freedom 4/24 staff members to have a sex-trafficking victim’s name written on their arms as inspiration during the race.
Many runners ran with Hunt’s name written on their arms in last year’s Run for Their Lives race. According to Hunt, the gesture gave her hope.
“Last year, I cried the whole time,” Hunt said. “I was honored and speechless.”
Liberty University student Emily Becker ran her first 5k to help fight human trafficking alongside friends.
“I thought the race was good and how I expected it to be,” Becker said. “It was easy with encouragement from friends.”
The Run for Their Lives race allows all different kinds of people to participate in the run, whether they are devoted athletes who have been training for been training for the race or not.
According to Becker, other than running a few times, she did not train intensely for the race, but she was still able to run for half of the race.
In the end, the race is focused much more on the cause to end human trafficking and to save women and children than on winners or times.
“The work of Freedom 4/24, the freedom that we are able to bring to countless women and children around the world is directly related to the size and success of our Run for Their Lives events,” Spaulding said. “The registration fees and additional donations received are the lifeblood of the work we do.”
According to the Freedom 4/24 website, Jacob Booth, 15, finished first in the 5k in a field that included 1,028 runners.
For more information about Freedom 4/24’s Run for Their Lives race or about the organization, visit freedom424.org.