Kids and families participate in two runs in the fight to end human traffiking
Local Lynchburg nonprofit Freedom 4/24 hosted two races at Liberty University to raise awareness on sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
The races were held April 22 and April 23. Friday featured a kid’s fun run and family night outside of the Liberty Indoor Track Complex. The main event took place on Saturday, featuring one of the nonprofit’s “Run 4 Their Lives” 5K series.
Lynchburg is one of four locations to host this event throughout the year. For both events, 100% of the registration costs go back into Freedom 4/24’s mission.
The family fun night on Friday gave kids a passport with eight stations to visit alongside the obstacle course race. Freedom 4/24 partnered together with the YMCA to offer a variety of stations. The YMCA stations focused on educating kids on how to keep their bodies healthy, while the Freedom 4/24 stations focused on learning about healthy relationships and online habits.
Programs Manager Rachael Smith said they prioritize educating others about the issues in the U.S. and around the world.
“Freedom 4/24 is a nonprofit here in Lynchburg that exists to prevent and end sexual exploitation and trafficking,” Smith said. “We do this through raising awareness, providing prevention information and expanding the restoration work of our partners locally and globally.”
At the event, families were also able to enjoy the warm weather with music, outdoor seating, Rookie’s, Domino’s pizza and multiple bounce houses.
God has called us to love all people and to help those who are in need.Charity Simon
Liberty student and active runner Charity Simon thought it was a great idea to include a kid’s event.
“It is nice to have a special event for children because a lot of the people running in the race may have kids that they have to bring with them,” Simon said. “Offering this for the children makes sure
everyone has a fun time.”
Runners were able to get involved even if they were not able to attend the race in person. In 2020, Freedom 4/24 offered virtual 5Ks despite past restrictions. Online runners were able to participate wherever they were located and continue to support and give back to the mission.
Smith has always been interested in raising awareness for human trafficking and said this is part of the reason she joined Freedom 4/24.
“When I was in junior high, I had the opportunity to go on a mission’s trip with my church with victims and survivors of human trafficking, and since then it’s been big part of my life and my passion. And when I moved to Lynchburg, I just Googled different organizations that had the same anti-human trafficking work, and Freedom 4/24 was the first one that popped up,” Smith said.
Simon said this is an important issue that Liberty students should be passionate about getting involved in.
“God has called us to love all people and to help those who are in need. We must help these people because they are precious to God, and this is what we have been called to do,” Simon said.
To get involved in upcoming races, hear more about the mission or donate to the organization, visit freedom424.org.
Haydon is a news reporter. Follow her on Twitter