Dozens gather to raise funds to stop human trafficking
COLUMBIA - Despite the weekend's wet weather, many people gathered at Christian Chapel to walk and run 32 laps for a cause.
The Freedom Walk is a 5k designed to raise funds for organizations fighting human trafficking.
One of the organizations receiving money from the event is the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition. The organization has been around since 2008.
One of the founders, Nanette Ward, said the event plays a vital role in getting the word out about human trafficking.
"Right here in mid-Missouri we have individuals who are being exploited, being trafficked," Ward said. "Whether it's in commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor, today everybody can participate in making a difference in those people's lives."
Ward said survivors of human trafficking were present during the Freedom Walk and that hosting an event like the Freedom Walk may seem small but it makes a huge difference.
"Just being a community together, that's what survivors need," Ward said. "They need to know, when they are exited from their exploitation, that there is a loving and caring community out there in the world."
She said there are several ways to help stop the "horrific crime."
Ward said the first way is by being aware. During the laps, tiny slips of paper were provided to participants that indicated what lap they were on and also provided a fact about human trafficking.
She said another way to prevent human trafficking is by participating as a community, "knowing that it does take every single one of us to make a difference in the lives of victims."
Proceeds from the 5k will also go to Project Rescue.