by Dani Dubois
World Relief and Partners International have partnered with Bloomsday to create an easy way for the Spokane community to support their causes. Participants can sign up to run the Bloomsday race on May 1 in support of these nonprofit organizations.
World Relief has named their event “Race 2 End Slavery” and Partners International participants will be running as Team Running Water.
World Relief is using the event to raise awareness about human trafficking in Spokane.
“We’re doing this fundraiser alongside Bloomsday so people can choose to run to fight human trafficking in Spokane,” said senior Angie Hartley, an intern at World Relief. “A lot of people don’t realize that human trafficking happens here.”
Hartley said little is known about human trafficking statistics in Spokane so it is easy to forget that it is occurring here.
“Through this fundraiser, World Relief is raising money to start an anti-trafficking program in Spokane,” Hartley said. “We’re trying to get a grant to start the program, and by raising awareness and interest we can prove why we need a grant.”
One report almost five years ago brought human trafficking concerns to the forefront of Spokane activists’ minds..
“This is a new issue for our region, and we are only beginning to assess the nature and extent of the problem,” according to the 2007 report prepared by Debbie DePuy for the Western Regional Institute for Community Oriented Public Safety.
The same report estimated there were 500 adult women involved in prostitution in Spokane. This number did not include the unknown number of males and minors involved in the sex industry.
“As our community becomes more adept at recognizing the indicators and service agencies succeed in documenting their encounters, we may discover that the trafficking situation in this region is even greater than we suspect,” DePuy wrote. “It is important that as a responsible community we are able to cope with the complexity of needs each trafficking victim is likely to require.”
So far, the Race 2 End Slavery has almost 400 participants, including 30 Whitworth students, and is projected to raise $10,000, Hartley said.
“I was really encouraged by the community response,” Hartley said. “I’m realizing people really do care about this, they just didn’t know what to do.”
Team Running Water will be racing to raise funds for safe drinking water around the world.
“One in eight people, or 884 million people in the world, don’t have access to clean drinking water,” according to the team website, www.teamrunningwater.com.
The money raised by Team Running Water will go to overseas organizations that have partnered with Partners International in Mali, Senegal, North Africa and Indonesia.
Both Race 2 End Slavery and Team Running Water have provided race T-shirts for their participants. These shirts will function as a way to raise awareness for their respective causes, creating conversation starters and a sense of unity among Bloomsday runners.