By Melody Vallieu
TROY — The new year offers renewed hope for new beginnings — but hopefully an end to some things as well.
For the ninth year, the New Year’s Day World Race for Hope 5K — which will take place at 10 a.m. in Troy on New Year’s Day — will raise money in hopes of ending such issues as social injustice and human trafficking. According to organizer Bret Bogan, the race originally began as the Race for First Place, as a fundraiser for Troy First United Methodist Church. After a few years, the focus of the race changed to social justice and human trafficking awareness, he said.
Race directors are Brett Bogan and Cynde Sroufe, a math teacher at Northwestern Schools. Both live in Troy with their families, are avid runners, having completed more than 30 half marathons and multiple full marathons each. Another key player for the race, and also a board member of Free To Run, is Scott Robinson, owner of local video production company Take 2 Productions.
“When I first found out that there is such as thing as modern day slavery (back in 2009), I began to research and learn about it as much as I could. There are many causes and social issues that exist in the world, but taking away somebody’s freedom for the purpose of profiting of them is one of the most heinous human rights issues in our world today,” said Bogan, Director of Investigations for RELX Group in Miamisburg, a parent company of LexisNexis. “As a husband and a father, and a member of the human race, I feel like modern day slavery cannot be ignored, and I devote a lot of my time to trying to raise awareness, advocate and educate.”
Bogan said the Free To Run Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit, was formed in 2012 to manage the race. When it was formed, the race had already expanded to Columbus — 2016 will be the fifth World Race for Hope — and had even done a couple of races in New York City.
“I think everybody can use something they are passionate about and use it for good. Cynde and I have been active runners for years, so it made sense for us to use our passion for running to try to help others,” Bogan said of choosing 5K races as fund raising opportunities.
In addition to those “in person” races, the organization offers a virtual race option to allow individuals to be a participant wherever they are, and they can run/walk a 5K on their schedule, wherever they want.
“Over the last few years, we’ve had participants from dozens of states, as well as Canada and the UK,” said Bogan, who shares race director duties with Cynde Sroufe.
Bogan said participants have an option to create an online fundraising page to raise additional funds to fight trafficking. Otherwise, a majority of the race fees go to charity.
Bogan said Free To Run will use some proceeds from the Troy race for its own education and awareness programs, but the bulk of the money will go towards the race charity partners, Abolition Ohio and Oasis House. Abolition Ohio is the Miami Valley’s Rescue and Restore Coalition (rescue and restore coalition is a collaborative organizational model that was created by Department of Health and Human Services). Oasis House has been doing outreach to sex workers in the Dayton area for many years, and recently opened a safe house, which is housing three women. They are starting a drop-in center and look to open more safe houses, he said.
The Troy FUMC Youth Group, for the seocnd year, will be doing a pancake breakfast at First Place starting at 9:30 a.m. Participants can finish the race and enjoy pancakes and sausage. It’s a free will offering, any donations go towards the youth group’s 2016 mission trip.
To register for the race, visit https://runsignup.com/worldraceforhopetroy
Free To Run is planning other education and awareness activities in 2016, including several free community movie screenings in January, which is National Slavery Prevention and Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
In the end, Bogan hopes to raise awareness with the funds raised, along with someday helping to end such injustices.
“Nonprofits across the board are constantly fighting for dollars, especially as other sources of funds have been on the decline. I know our charity partners absolutely need every dollar raised in order to fulfill their missions. As laws are getting tougher, and the justice systems are catching up with how to apply the laws, along with an increase of awareness that slavery isn’t just a developing country issue, just like many anti-slavery advocates, I believe that we can decrease the prevalence, or even end, slavery in this generation.”
For more information on Free To Run, visit http://www.freetorunfoundation.org
Reach Melody Vallieu at [email protected] or call (937) 552-2131