By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Oklahoma’s first Voices in the Dark 5k Run/Walk will be held to raise awareness of human trafficking and related issues on Sunday, Oct. 6. The opening ceremony will take place at 2:30 p.m. at Wheeler Park, 1120 S. Western, on the Oklahoma City Riverfront. The race begins at 3 p.m., organizers said.
Voices in the Dark 5k Run/Walk has partnered the event with non-profit, faith-based No Boundaries International (nbint.org). The event’s purpose is to raise awareness and funds for NBI’s Project HOPE, which fights human trafficking in the Oklahoma City area.
The opening ceremony will feature running coach and author Mark Bravo, plus a live music performance by Ellerie West, the 2013 Traditional Country Female Entertainer of the Year.
“Voices in the Dark symbolizes those trapped in human trafficking, bondage, enslavement, and all other forms of abuse and addictions,” said Rachelle Small, Oklahoma native, race director and founder.
Recently, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics’ Human Trafficking Unit concluded a four-day operation focusing on organized sex trafficking in Tulsa, Rogers, Ottawa and Delaware counties.
Mark Woodward, OBN spokesperson said, “OBN worked from Sept. 10-13 in multiple cities and several locations to target and arrest individuals engaged in prostitution. Follow-up interviews with the defendants were conducted to identify minors, as well as adults forced into prostitution as the result of human trafficking.”
According to an OBN press release, the Bureau frequently sees a nexus in the groups involved in drug trafficking and human trafficking. This link resulted in the creation of the OBN Human Trafficking Unit in 2012.
OBN Director Darrell Weaver said, “OBN is committed to dismantling organizations involved in the seedy world of prostitution and ultimately human trafficking. Our agencies, along with our law enforcement partners, are determined to make a positive impact in a dark world that troubles the soul. Women who are used as a commodity sickens one’s heart.”
Small says the racecourse, running parallel along the Oklahoma River and I-40, was selected because it is one of the highest trafficked routes in the state and to highlight the fact that Oklahoma’s interstates are the major catalyst for human trafficking.
The Start/Finish line will be located by the baseball field located just southeast of the Western/I-40 exit.
“We may not be in the world of human trafficking with you, but we are running alongside you to bring you hope and let you know we are your advocate,” said Small. “We are in this together, as human trafficking has a domino effect on numerous social issues that affect the entire community directly and indirectly and we are here to help.”
All proceeds raised from this event will benefit NBI’s efforts in combating human trafficking and related issues in Oklahoma.
Community sponsors and endorsements include the Presenting Sponsor – Great Plains National Bank Mortgage Division; Digital Graphics Inc; Absolute Care Senior Services; Best Feet Forward; Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office; Big Brothers and Big Sisters; She’s Somebody’s Daughter; Century 21 Mark V Realty – Team Webb; and Oklahoma City Abstract and Title.
Voices in the Dark 5k Run/Walk is officially sanctioned and certified by USATF and timing services are provided by DG Productions. Results will be posted online at dgroadracing.com
Awards will be given to the top three male and female finishers in standard USATF age groups. The top overall male and female finishers will receive special awards.
Pre registration costs $25 until Sept. 23. Starting Sept. 24, registration fee is $30 and costs $35 on race day. Race day registration will be held from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Online registration closes Oct. 1.
Packet Pick-Up will be available at Best Feet Forward, 7431 N. May Ave., on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 2 – 6 pm.
Event activities include music, fingerprinting, moon bounces, giveaways and informational booths. Runners/walkers ages 12 years and younger must be accompanied by a registered parent/guardian to participate. No pets are allowed.
For registration and more details visit voicesinthedarkrun.org.
Voices in the Dark 5k Run/Walk raises awareness about local and global human trafficking
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