Breaking News
More () »

Event cancellation doesn't stop group from raising awareness about human trafficking in 5K run

The 9th Annual Run 4 Their Lives 5K was canceled due to unfavorable winter weather conditions and ice on the running route.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Human trafficking in Tennessee has been on the rise over the past several years.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, it's the second-fastest growing crime in the state. 

To combat that, each year people in Knoxville run in the Freedom 424 "Run 4 Their Lives" 5K. But, this year is a little different.

The organizers of the 5K said they had to cancel due to winter weather conditions that left the running route covered in ice.

Sierra McKinley was getting ready to leave for the event when she received the cancellation email.

"I thought to myself, 'Well, they probably still have a tent at the location because they probably have to turn people away, which means that they probably have our T-shirts and bibs still there. So what if we just go get our T-shirts and then find a safer place to run without ice?'" McKinley said.

McKinley and her friends went to Lakeshore park, as an alternative. They put on their shirts and ran a 5K by themselves. They said a little snow won't stop them from getting the message out about human trafficking.

"I think just to bring awareness and also encouraging people to take action against something that is so outright wrong, is a way that you can continue to work towards ending sex trafficking," McKinley said. "The idea of rescuing people out of a situation that they can't get themselves out of is something that I think should be promoted all around the world."

As the group ran, they waved to other people in the park. McKinley said they would yell "Run 4 Their Lives" as they passed others, bringing awareness to the cause.

The Run 4 Their Lives race director, Angela Owens, said it was amazing to hear about.

"We are blessed with such amazing support!" Owens said.

To find more information on how to support Run 4 Their Lives and Freedom424 visit their website.

Before You Leave, Check This Out