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College of Public Health to race for human trafficking awareness

Students will help raise funds to help combat human trafficking on Saturday. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

The Global Disaster Management, Humanitarian Relief and Homeland Security (GHH)​ will host the 2018 “Light Up the Night” event to raise awareness of human trafficking on Saturday. Joined by the Pasco County Police, Light Up the Night will include a 5k and 1-mile run/walk race. 

The event will be geared toward collecting funds for a variety of agencies who are set on ending the human trafficking. According to event details, the goal for participants is not just to run for the cause but also to educate participants about the prevalence of human trafficking globally and locally. 

According to The Florida Department of Children and Families, there was 1,892 reports of Human Trafficking in 2015-16. This is compared to 1,225 in 2014-15. 

According to Pasco County Sheriff’s Office Community Newsletter, Florida ranks third in the number of calls received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Overall, it’s been reported that each year 300,000 children, between the ages of 12 to 14, are prostituted against their will. 

AnnaMaria Orlando, the organizer for Light Up the Night, said participants and community members will be continuously educated throughout the event. 

“There will be different facts about human trafficking,” Orlando said. “While people are running or walking they can think about the purpose and reason and keep it in their minds.” 

The event will start at Pasco-Hernando State College and will later move to the Shoppes of Wiregrass. The 5k and 1-mile run/walk race, which will be taking place on the college campus, along with a speech from survivor, Edie Ray. 

 “(Edie Ray) is with Healing Root, and she’ll be giving us a small snapshot of her life,” Orlando said. “The whole purpose is to bring awareness to those benefiting organization and to sponsor them.” 

Elizabeth Dunn, Assistant to the Director/Instructor of GHH, said “Light Up the Night” gives public health students a chance to get involved.

“By partnering with the Pasco Sheriff’s Office on their anti-human trafficking efforts, students have been able to support events like Light up the Night that are designed to educate the community about the prevalence of trafficking throughout the Tampa Bay area,” Dunn said. “Many of our students are eager to get involved with areas they are passionate about and volunteering allows them to explore public health issues, expand their social networks and work with leaders in our community.” 

According to Orlando, there will be plenty to do for students who wish to visit. The six benefiting organization — Bridging Freedom, Healing Root Ministry, West Florida Center for Trafficking Advocacy, Loving You Where You Are At, Redefining Refuge and the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking — will take part in informing the public about their organizations with a small speech on the stage.  

“Participants will either do the walk or the run,” Orlando said. “The concert event at the Shoppes of Wiregrass have people there such as Word of Life. There will also be a K-9 group showing participants what they do to help.” 

At this family-friendly event, the community members will enjoy live music, bounce houses, face painting, horse-mounted Police Officers, food vendors, a helicopter landing and a candlelight ceremony to conclude.  

The goal for Light Up the Night is to generate $50,000 in funds. According to the event page, this year participants are allowed to create fundraising pages to better support this effort.  

The Light Up the Night event will start in Pasco-Hernando State College at 4:30 p.m. The 5k Run has a price of $30.00 and includes a $2.50 sign-up fee. For the 1-mile race walk, it’s a $25.00 fee that also includes the sign-up fee mentioned. The main event that follows in Wiregrass will be starting at 6:00 p.m. 

Corporal Alan Wilkett, of the Pasco County Sheriff’s office and the Pasco County Human Trafficking Task force, will be present at Light Up the Night to bring attention to the facts behind Human Trafficking and support the event.

Besides supporting supply drives, food drives or other activities that raise funds, Wilkett said there are things anyone can do to help stop, prevent and bring awareness to Human Trafficking all together. 

“Human Trafficking is happening all around us,” Wilkett said. “One of the things that I think is so critically important for us as a community is to understand that the better informed we are, the better our skills become at detecting when this particular crime is taking place.”