Free to Run plans 5K, summit


TROY — For many, January has a familiar feel. Start out the new year with a clean slate, make a few resolutions, and set out to make lasting changes in their lives. F

ree To Run Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit based in Troy, wants residents to consider adding one more goal to their list in January: take a stand against modern day slavery.

According to the 2016 report from the Global Slavery Index, there are an estimated 45.8 million people in some form of slavery around the world today, more than any point in history. The International Labour Organization estimates that human trafficking is a $150 billion per year industry, making it the second largest criminal industry. Polaris, which runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline, reports that there have been more than 4,700 calls to the hotline from Ohio since 2007, resulting in over one thousand cases, and identification of approximately one thousand victims. Human trafficking is a hidden crime, but it is a problem in the developing world and developed countries alike.

Free To Run was founded by several local runners who wanted to make a difference, at a time when charity running events were on the rise. Their initial event, now in its 10th year, is the World Race for Hope 5K in Troy on New Year’s Day. The goals of the 5K are to raise awareness of human trafficking, to demonstrate that simple acts can make a difference, and that everybody has some talent or passion that they can use to help others. Proceeds from the event benefit Free To Run’s education and awareness initiatives, as well as Dayton-based nonprofits Oasis House and Abolition Ohio.

“We’re excited to be celebrating our 10th year for our Troy race,” said co-founder Brett Bogan. “While we have grown to include other events during the year outside of Troy, this is still our signature, kick-off event for the year. We have many dedicated runners and walkers who come out on New Year’s Day no matter what the weather conditions are.”

Since January is National Slavery Prevention and Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Free To Run intends to be active throughout the month, including social media and blog posts, and ending the month with a social justice summit in Troy featuring music, multimedia presentations, poetry and spoken word, and a fashion show featuring local models. Free To Run is partnering on the event with Bay Area-based nonprofit Not For Sale, and the Columbus-based nonprofit UNCHAINED Fashion Show. UNCHAINED organizes fashion shows throughout Ohio and beyond, using a collection of dresses designed by a Project Runway finalist. By recruiting local females to be the models, they are empowering the models, volunteers and attendees with the education and tools to join the abolitionist movement.

Registration for the World Race for Hope 5K is available online through New Year’s Eve, or participants can register the day of the race starting at noon at First Place Christian Center on New Year’s Day. The race start time is 1:30 p.m. There will be chip timing by Speedy Feet, and after the race, there will be age group awards and cake to celebrate the race’s 10th birthday. The social justice summit will take place at First Place on Saturday, Jan. 28.

More information about both events can be found on Free To Run’s website, visit http://freetorunfoundation.org.