Avondale is collaborating with Joy International for the second Barefoot in Mile on Saturday, October 2nd.
Joy International is a worldwide non-profit organization that aims to rescue, rehabilitate and reintegrate children, adolescents and young people affected by human trafficking.
The event will be held at Friendship Park in Avondale from 9 a.m. to noon. Registration is free, and participants can take a walk in person or commit to their Walking Away away from the crowd. Upon registration, participants are automatically given a website for sponsorships, collecting donations, or joining others on their team.
According to Joy International, trafficking in human beings is the fastest growing crime in the world, earning about $ 150 billion each year. Worldwide, about 2 million children are forced into the commercial sex trade each year, with 14,500 to 17,500 of those coming from the United States.
As Christians, it is our responsibility to follow the youngest of these, to be a voice to the voiceless, and to help the helpless, said Martha Noday, Arizona event coordinator.
We can not stand knowing the evil atrocities that are happening to these children and not take action. Partnering with Joy International is one way to do our part in serving the word and being light in dark places, she added for Matthew 25:40, where Jesus said, Whatever you have done for the least of these brothers and sisters my, you did for me.
Joy International was founded in 1981 by Jeff Brodsky in Colorado, who, before becoming a humanitarian, was a professional clown for more than 20 years. He traveled the world, mostly to developing countries, to make children smile. He was invited by Mother Teresa to visit her orphanage in Calcutta, India. During his travels as a clown, Brodsky said he saw the horrible conditions in which the children were, regardless of their free will or not. After a heart attack forced him to withdraw from the clown character, he had an epiphany that led to the creation of the nonprofit organization Joy International.
I was just sitting in a car and I had an open Bible for John 15:11 that said what Jesus was saying. He said these words: I tell you these things, that my joy might be in you, and that your joy might be full. That word of joy really came out of the pages, and that’s exactly when it came to me with the idea of creating an organization called Joy International, and that’s how it was born, Brodsky said.
Since its inception, Joy International has rescued 2,000 to 3,000 children, teens, young women and boys who were forced into slavery. Brodsky said at first, they did not have a strong focus on victims of sex trafficking and were simply trying to get children off the streets and advocate for them. However, Brodsky found that there are thousands of organizations that do this, but very few that actually run rescue and rehabilitation programs. After seeing a news report on sex trafficking and doing his own research, he was horrified by the prevalence and severity of the issue.
I learned about the plight of children and teens who were abducted or trafficked, sold and forced to be sex slaves, Brodsky said. I thought, How can this happen in our world today? I started researching it and the more I researched it, the more I realized it was worse than when I first saw it in a news report. Then there was a change in my thoughts as to what Joy International’s mission and focus would be on rescuing trafficked children.
Brodsky was so affected by their condition that he has been barefoot for more than 11 years. When he was in Cambodia, he said he saw children completely barefoot in a landfill. That same day, he made the decision to live barefoot in solidarity with poor and trafficked children. Ever since he started 11 years ago, he has not spent a day wearing shoes, nor visiting Alaska, with freezing temperatures, or when he was in Death Valley, where there are over 115.
While he is committed to helping victims of trafficking in any way he can, he admits fundraising the Barefoot Mile Walk was not his idea.
There was a small group of young people in this city in Ohio. After listening to me speak, they said they wanted to do a fundraiser for Joy International because rescue operations are too expensive, Brodsky said. So, they called me and asked me, would it be nice if we could do a barefoot walk and call it Mile barefoot to raise money for you?
He said he thought it was a nice idea and when the band raised over $ 13,000, he realized there was something special about it. Since then, the organization has had over 50 barefoot walks in several states and has cumulatively raised $ 1 billion. Last year was the first Arizona Walking Mile walk, and Noday said it was a success.
Our first annual walk in Arizona generated $ 36,000, she said. We had 500 people attend last year and expect from 700 to 1,000 this year. We want to make this an annual tradition. Tuesday lovingly to give the West Valley community an opportunity to fight human trafficking and help support local and global resources.
For this year walk, Noday said they are hoping to match or surpass past years. She encouraged local businesses to sponsor a participant or donate. Donor organizations can receive acknowledgments during the walk, as well as the opportunity to put information about their business in participants ’bags or set up a booth (options depend on the amount donated).
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