In 2011, when we heard a true story about little girls from Cambodia-- clad in red dresses--being sold into the sex trade, we decided to don our own crimson best and take to the street to raise awareness about child sex trafficking. On weekly "red runs" through downtown Algonquin, we came up with The Red Run 5K Run/Walk, which will host its inaugural event on August 11 at Presidential Park on Highland Avenue in Algonquin.
Our USATF-certified race will benefit the Salvation Army PROMISE (Anne's House), a local residential program that provides aftercare for victims, and Love146, an organization that provides prevention and aftercare solutions internationally. Prizes will be awarded for the top male and female finishers and for the top three finishers in each age category.
"I envision a sea of red," said Nystad. "We will run or walk in red to honor victims and to raise awareness about this horrific epidemic. We will be saying, 'Not in our backyard.'"
To bring light to another form of human trafficking-- slave labor--participants can take the Slavery Footprint lifestyle survey, which assesses how many slaves provide services for an individual based upon the products he or she buys. A grand total will be announced on race day.
"Most people think of human trafficking as something that happens overseas, but the reality is it is happening right here--not only in Chicago, but in the suburbs," said Guerrieri. "Here in the U.S., victims aren't typically kidnapped or trapped in a brothel as is often portrayed on TV. They meet someone at school, at the mall, or online, and are lured in."
"As many as 25,000 females are exploited every year in Chicago alone--with the average age of entry being 12--14 years old," Guerrieri continued. "We must band together, educate ourselves, and say, 'Not in our town! Not our children!'"
The event will feature:
• Raffle prizes (including artwork by Buy Art Not People, Chicago Cubs rooftop tickets, Chicago White Sox memorabilia, gift certificates to local businesses)
• Vendors that support victims and survivors of human trafficking (including WAR Chest Boutique--Naperville, which supports the organization Women At Risk)
• An inflatable bounce house for kids
• Music by K-LOVE radio
For more information or to register for the event please visit theredrun.org. Registration is $25 in advance of the event or $35 at the door. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Kristen Guerrieri at email@example.com.