|Ariel (middle) and her running partners|
Ever since my first half-marathon in the spring of 2010, right before my graduation from Hillsdale College, I've know that I wanted to run a full marathon. Each year after graduation I'd wonder if it was the year I'd get to train for this endurance race; but each year I had big life changes that required my time and resources: moving to another state and starting a new job, getting married, moving again and going to grad school and working full time.
Once my husband Nic and I moved back to Michigan, I really hoped my time had come to train for and run my first marathon. The biggest obstacle seemed to be that no one wanted to run it with me! I was worried that, as a type 1 diabetic, I would have a medical situation while training and no one would be there to help me.
What if I had a medical emergency during the race and no one knew or could help until I passed out from low blood sugar? Who would I do my long training runs with? What if something happened when I was 10 miles from home and I needed someone to help me?
God started to reveal his plan for me and my first marathon soon after the first of this year. Early in 2015, my mom told me that a group from her church--Northridge Church--was going to run the Detroit Free Press Marathon in October to raise money for victims of human trafficking.
I will admit, at first I was selfishly focused on how this solved all of my concerns for running my first marathon: I would have a big group to train with and I could find a running partner to run the race with who would know about my medical needs. Raising money for the prevention of human trafficking and rehabilitation of its rescued victims seemed secondary.
But would you know, as I started to tuck the miles under my belt and spend more time with my amazing running team of over 400 people (running/walking both the half and full marathon), I heard more about our cause and how our efforts were brining light into the darkest lives in our community. And my heart and priorities changed.
Here are some of the stats:
- Every 30 seconds, human trafficking claims another victim around the world
- Human trafficking isn't just a third-world problem; it claims victims from every community, affluent and poor
- Michigan is ranked #2 in the USA for human trafficking
- Human trafficking is more lucrative for pimps, gangsters, and the mafia than drugs or guns
- Many police precincts know where women are trapped in sex trafficking, but they know that even if they bust the pimps, there isn't the infrastructure and there't aren't the services to support and rehabilitate the rescued women and children, so they just end up in homeless shelters and usually under the control of a new pimp
- The average age of entry into human trafficking is 12-14 years old for girls and 9-12 for boys
- 1 in 3 runaways will be approached by a trafficker within 48 hours of running away--even if they run away from a stable, loving home
- Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world today
- 1440: The number of minutes in every day that a victim is enslaved and the same number of minutes we are FREE
God has used witnesses and survivors of human trafficking in Michigan and the work of our outreach group to bind my heart to this mission. I can honestly say that running this marathon is now less about my own accomplishment and more about pushing through pain, injury, and spiritual walls to rescue those who deserve and need to be shown God's love through our efforts.
Every runner has a personal goal of raising $1440--one dollar for every minute in a day that we celebrate freedom. Our overall goal is $500k. These funds will be used by organizations like Salvation Army, All Worthy of Love (AWOL), S.O.A.P (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution), Detroit Rescue Mission, and Vista Maria to provide safe long- and short-term housing, medical and psychological care, job training, education, and spiritual care.
We are in this race for the rescue, restoration, rehabilitation, and renewal of those who have been abused and abandoned. And just as every mile counts in our race, every dollar counts to making a real difference in these women and children's lives.
You can donate and learn more at www.socialply.com/fundraisers/2280
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