DGKN staff report
The seventh annual Dalton Aruna Run 5K is set for Oct. 9 with 100 percent of proceeds to help free, employ, and empower sexually enslaved women.
The Aruna Project, an international human rights non-profit headquartered in Cincinnati, has 10 races this year to raise awareness about the harsh reality of sex trafficking and generate money to aid in the freedom process. Since its inception in 2015, the Dalton run has raised over $65,000 for freedom.
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Dalton resident Jennifer Doerfler has served as the local race host since 2016.
“I ran in the very first Dalton Aruna Run in 2015, which also happened to be my first 5K,” Doerfler said in information provided. “I’ll never forget that I ran for a woman named Nara. I wept much of the race at the thought of her being enslaved in a brothel all alone with no hope. Knowing that I could bring change to someone’s life and help play a part in ending sex trafficking was what ultimately led me to take over the host role.”
The Aruna Run Race Series is the catalyst of the freedom process, with the money raised flowing into Aruna’s Training Centers in areas of high sexual exploitation in South Asia, according to a news release. Once freed, the women are offered full-time employment in Aruna’s Freedom Business, where they are trained to produce the line of Athleisure bags and headbands sold in its online store, at events, and at select retail locations. The proceeds from the sale of the products are reinvested into the Freedom Business to fund the holistic care each Artisan receives: a living wage, safe housing, healthcare, retirement savings, and counseling.
At every Aruna Run, participants run or walk for an enslaved woman by name– a woman the Aruna Project is actively working to free from the brothels. Her name is on the race bibs, and participants literally run and walk to help bring freedom to her and other women like her. They then receive email updates on her journey to freedom throughout the year. In addition, the race swag is made by Aruna Artisans, freed and employed in Aruna’s Freedom Business thanks to funds raised in previous Aruna Runs.
“Considering that human trafficking is a global epidemic, many people wonder, why India?” Ryan Berg, Aruna founder and CEO, stated in the news release. “While combatting it everywhere is important, India is paramount for us because Indian women’s risk of being sexually exploited is increased by the convergence of certain predisposing factors, including violence, corruption, gender bias, poverty, and limited education. In fact, we work in the center of some of the highest concentrations of sex trafficking in all of Asia, with an estimated 15,000 sex workers in a twosquare mile area. Bearing that in mind, we simply must do something on behalf of these enslaved women.”
But Aruna is also working to help end human trafficking in the United States.
“In 2020, we welcomed our first local survivor, Katie, to our US team,” continued Ryan. “Her employment is only the beginning of our local footprint. As demand for our products grows, so too will our need to employ more local survivors in our Cincinnati headquarters to help with order fulfillment and quality control.”
The Dalton Aruna Run begins at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 9 at P. Graham Dunn. It will feature a 5K, 1-Mile, and Weighted Vest 5K Challenge. Every registered participant will receive an athletic drawstring backpack and universal gator, made by Aruna Artisans, as well as a race t-shirt. More information about the race is available at https://bit.ly/2021DaltonArunaRun.
Learn more about the cause at www.arunaproject.com.