Operation Underground Railroad: Race raises awareness for human trafficking - East Idaho News

Operation Underground Railroad: Race raises awareness for human trafficking

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REXBURG — More than 100 racers showed up in Rexburg to run in the Operation Underground Railroad Run To Break The Chain Race to bring awareness to human trafficking.

The 5- or 10-kilometer race was held Saturday, Sept. 26, and started at Smith Park in Rexburg. President Jerry Gowen said many of the runners participated to support the cause. Many people in the U.S. see human trafficking as a far away problem, not something happening here, he said. Operation Underground Railroad hopes to change that.

“The truth is that trafficking is happening all over the world, it is happening locally as well. UNICEF estimates around 2 million children are being trafficked all over the world and it happens in the U.S. it happens right around us, under our noses, were not aware of it because we don’t know what to look for,” Gowen said.

Event organizers were inspired by the amount of support the event got from the community. Volunteer race coordinator Matt Foster said he was particularly inspired by one racer who took 11 hours and 15 minutes to complete the race.

As the the event was coming to a close, Foster noticed one racer with disabilities had not finished and decided to go look for him. That’s when he found Brock Highman still working hard to finish the half-marathon. Foster decided that Highman, who walks and talks at a slow pace due to his disability, could use some motivation. Foster walked with him until the end of the race.

“He is an amazing person to do this and very inspiring.” said Foster.

EastIdahoNews.com was unable to reach Highman by press time.

Courtesy Photo: Volunteer race coordinator Matt Foster and Brock Highman

Organizers were so impressed with Highman that they asked him to speak at an upcoming OUR event. Events like these take a lot of effort, Foster said.

“It takes a lot of community support, we had many local business help. Also, the city of Rexburg really contributed their knowledge with running the Teton Dam Marathon. It really takes persistence to make something like this happen,” Foster said.

Racers received medals as the crossed the finish line to celebrate their achievement. The event also featured a raffle and activities for children.

To learn more about Operation Underground Railroad or get involved, go to https://ourrescue.org.