ALGONQUIN – Last year, Kristen Guerrieri began running around town in a red dress.
The fashion statement was meant to raise awareness of child sex trafficking. During her eight-week campaign, Guerrieri raised $2,000 for Love146.org, an organization that does work to prevent child sex trafficking.
To further help raise awareness of child sex trafficking, Guerrieri and Cortina Nystad have organized a 5K run/walk for Saturday.
The Red Run will raise money for The Salvation Army’s Promise initiative and Love146.org.
So far, 275 people have signed up. Guerrieri and Nystad had hoped for 200.
They hoped to raise at least $10,000, but with all of the registrations and sponsorships so far, they believe they have reached close to $15,000.
Guerrieri was inspired to raise money to help stop human trafficking after reading the book “The Road of Lost Innocence,” a story about a Cambodian woman who was sold into sexual slavery as a child but who now works to rescue others.
In Cambodia, young girls sold into sexual slavery usually wear red dresses while in a brothel, Guerrieri said.
The red dress Guerrieri wore during her fundraiser last year symbolized those little girls, she said.
Money raised from the 5K will go toward Anne’s House in Chicago, which is run by The Salvation Army’s Promise initiative.
Anne’s House is a residential facility that helps minors who have been sexually exploited.
Money raised from the 5K also will benefit Love146.org. Love146.org has the Round Home in the Philippines, which performs prevention and after care of children who were victims of human sex trafficking.
Those who sign up online for the 5K by Monday will pay a $25 registration fee. People still can register the day of the 5K, but the cost then is $35.
Raising awareness and ending demand for child sex trafficking will help end the child sex trade, Guerrieri said.
“It’s important to me, because these girls are children. I have two little girls and they’re in gymnastics and dance recitals. ... There are other girls in the world who are doing the unthinkable ... and being traumatized,” Guerrieri said. “It breaks my heart. People need to be aware and help stop it.”