I’m in a place. You know I am. And it’s tempting to hunker down with myself and my blankets and my fresh episodes of Downton Abbey and pretend there’s no outside world for a while–oh, so tempting. But at the same time I’ve felt a longing in my heart to push off the blankets and step outside my room with my double-paned windows and take a clearer look at things. My need feels great, but I have a stirring in my heart that says there are greater needs to be met. So often I feel like mine is the only plaintive little cry out there, that I’m all by myself in my pain, but I’m wrong.
So often I feel alone in this world, but I am not.
Sometimes the things in your heart and the things in someone else’s align so perfectly that you know it’s something special, something right. That’s how I felt when Jo at Mylestones emailed me last month about an idea she’d been kicking around, the possibility of using a shared love of running to help us and others focus on an issue bigger than ourselves.
It’s an issue that should unsettle us and keep us walking up and down at night but too often doesn’t: child sex slavery and exploitation. Boys and girls bought and sold, their bodies and memories and hearts marked with the evil done to them–not just in movies or special news reports about southeast Asia, but in our cities, our neighborhoods, at Disneyland. The places we think are safest. We don’t know. We walk around with our eyes closed. I walk around with my eyes closed. But we don’t have to, and I don’t want to any more.
That’s where Jo comes in. This is her brainchild (and really, I can’t take any credit for it). She’s launched Run for their Lives in partnership with Love146.org, an organization that works for the abolition of child sex slavery and exploitation through prevention, aftercare, and research in Asia, North America, and Eastern Europe. And she’s invited me to join her as the West Coast team leader.
Our goal is not only fundraising, although that’s important, but also education, which is perhaps more important. We want to have our own eyes opened, and then to open the eyes of others, because we believe that these small steps we take together can lead to much bigger strides. So we will run–and you can too.
How you can help:
- Run. Sign up for a race–any race, any place, any distance, any speed–in the next ten to twelve weeks. If you want, for example, you can join me and other West Coast team members at the Go Green St. Patrick’s Day Run in Los Gatos, California, on March 17. (Jo has a good list of other racing resources here.) Then visit the Love146 Run for their Lives donation page to join a team (any team you like, regardless of which race you’re running), create a personal donation page, and begin raising money.
- Train. Join the Run for their Lives Daily Mile challenge to run 146 miles for Love146. As Jo puts it, this isn’t a fundraising initiative but a way to help us train with the cause in mind and to encourage one another as we do.
- Read. Spend some time learning about the child sex slavery and exploitation. Become uncomfortable. Find out what you can do. Love146.org is a great place to start. More resources and information here and here.
- Donate. You can support an individual runner, a team, or the group effort. No matter which option you choose, every penny will go directly to Love146 and their work to abolish child sex slavery.
- Share. Share the Run for their Lives Facebook group, Daily Mile challenge, and blog with your friends. Forward the information to people who might be interested. Write a blog post or two. President Obama just proclaimed January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and January 11 (two little days from now!) is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States. We’ll be offering a link-up on the Run for their Lives blog, and we’d love you to join us in sharing your thoughts, ideas, and stories.
I hope that you’ll all do at least one of these things. If you do nothing else, take some time to learn about the realities of child sex slavery. Allow your heart to be broken. Whatever you do, don’t turn away. Children’s lives are at stake.