GREENFIELD — The first-ever Walk-Run-4-Freedom, organized by a core group of three Hancock County teens to raise money and awareness on the issue of human trafficking, did a good deal of both during the weekend, with a huge turnout and reaching 80 percent of its financial goal.
More than 260 participants took to the Pennsy Trail for the four-mile walk/run that started behind the Courthouse Plaza, and an early tally indicates the run raised about $8,000 for Rapha House, an organization that rescues and heals children from human trafficking and sexual exploitation, said Beth Zimmerman, mother of event organizer Taylor Zimmerman.
Taylor, 16, and friends Emily Webber and Molly Warren began planning the run last year, setting an initial goal of $1,000. But they decided they could do better and ultimately settled on a goal of $10,000.
“The girls worked really, really hard, and it paid off,” Zimmerman said.
In addition to rallying a sizeable field for the run’s inaugural outing, the event garnered substantial support from the local business community, and the girls are already setting their sights on next year to make the run an annual event.
“I think they’ve got a meeting this Saturday to debrief and talk about what they can do better,” Zimmerman said.
Once they mull over how to improve things, a decision on when next year’s run will take place could come as early as the first of the year.
Among the throng that turned out Saturday were the New Palestine boy’s varsity soccer team, and head coach Bobby Holden’s group was all in, eating pizza and frozen yogurt for the cause in addition to logging the miles over the weekend.
“We try to do a team event every weekend,” Holden said. “It really opens their eyes.”
Freshman James Pridgen said he was happy to be involved in a cause that fights human and child trafficking.
“I knew about it, but I didn’t know (the scope) of it,” James said. “It was a good learning experience. I’m glad I did it.”
Holden said the run was a top-notch event.
“I was very impressed by what those girls did,” he said. “The numbers were overwhelming.”
In an effort to hit the tape full-stride, donations to the cause are being held open for another week to help reach the original goal of $10,000. Checks can be made payable directly to Rapha House and mailed to wr4FREEDOM, P.O. Box 909, Greenfield, IN 46140.