Break Free, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of human trafficking “break free” from modern day slavery, is conducting its second fund-raising run of the year on November 8 at Lake Merritt. Their run in Folsom in September was their fifth annual event in that location and set a record with more than 3,000 runners, walkers, and supporters. Together, they raised more the $100,000 to combat modern day slavery, and Break Free is looking to extend that momentum with another strong showing in Oakland.
October 26 is the last day (by midnight) for participants to register for the Lake Merritt 5k and 10k races and receive a T-shirt. However, participants can register as late as race day itself. Besides a race around the lake, the Run For Courage will include Break Free co-founders Ashlie Bryant and Vicki Zito honoring human trafficking survivors and recognizing modern day abolitionists.
Many modern day abolition organizations—representing local, state, and international efforts to fight trafficking and serve those harmed by it—will have information stations at the race site. Some of them will include beneficiary organizations to receive funds that Break Free raises during their 2014 races.
Break Free’s 2014 beneficiaries are City of Refuge, Glass Slipper, Agape International Missions, New Day for Children, Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition, Bridget’s Dream, Red Window Project, and Freedom House. These organizations are subject to Break Free’s thorough Evaluate-Donate-Monitor methodology that ensures extremely worthy and valid programs receive donations. Those programs are then continually monitored by the Break Free beneficiary team as part of their fiduciary responsibility to sponsors, runners, and walkers.
To date, Run For Courage, Inc. has raised more than $700,000 to fund education, awareness, prevention, and restoration programs to further the organization’s mission to combat human trafficking. Funds have been granted to more than 15 different beneficiary programs to prevent exploitation of high-risk youth and restoration of victims.
Yet Break Free is committed to furthering their efforts against human trafficking by expanding prevention efforts. According to Bryant, Executive Director, “Educating students about this crime and how to avoid victimization is one of our top priorities. Through education and awareness, young people recognize they have a voice and the power to abolish human trafficking.”
Zito added her personal conviction, experience, and mission to the fight against this human rights atrocity, “I speak out to raise awareness about the crime that is trafficking. I do so, because with every fiber of my being, I believe it is wrong for a child to be bought and sold, for sex. I have seen firsthand the devastation this crime leaves in its wake. Unfortunately, I have also experienced an ill-equipped health care setting that was nowhere near prepared to care for my daughter, a victim, in her hour of need. It is my mission to change the way the health care professionals and first responders treat survivors.”
Thousands of human trafficking victims in California and millions of victims worldwide are in their hour of need now. Help Break Free help them by registering for the Lake Merritt Run For Courage as a participant in Oakland or even as a virtual runner.