By Raegan Turner | Staff Writer
Runners and walkers of the annual Light Up the Dark 5k, hosted by UnBound and Chick-Fil-A Waco, were met with some bittersweet news over the weekend.
The 1k and 5k portion of the event, previously scheduled to take place at 6:45 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at McLane Stadium, were canceled due to the extreme weather earlier that day. Tornado warnings, heavy winds and rains made conditions too bad to run or even walk the race.
Despite this, the family-friendly event continued through the evening; packet pick-up, t-shirt sales, Pokey-O’s and Chick-Fil-A were offered from 5:00 p.m. until after the free RELIC concert, which began at 8:30 p.m inside the Future Hall of Fame at McLane Stadium.
Many Baylor students, families and Wacoans still arrived that evening once the weather cleared up in order to play games, eat dinner and support the organization.
All proceeds from food sales went to support the anti-trafficking organization UnBound, which has a fundraising goal of $30,000 for the year. According to the UnBound website, race sponsors included Chick-Fil-A, Waco Tours, Waco Running Company, Antioch Community Church and many more.
Austin junior Ana O’Quin is one of the leaders of UnBound College, a student organization most of whose members attend Baylor University. Many were present at the event alongside volunteers from the main branch of the organization. O’Quin explains her interest in UnBound while attending Baylor.
“I think it’s really important to not feel like you have to wait to have your degree before you start making moves forward in things you’re passionate about. For me social justice, specifically justice for victims, is really important to me so UnBound is a huge way for me to start now and not have to wait until I am a social work graduate to make a difference,” O’Quin said.
UnBound is an anti-trafficking organization based in Waco that has its roots in Antioch Community Church. The group focuses on assisting local communities with fighting human trafficking through prevention, professional training and survivor advocacy. Though headquartered in Waco, other locations include College Station, Houston and Fort Worth, as well as Orange County, Calif. and Mongolia.
Cypress junior Jessica Ullrich, also a leader of UnBound College, is passionate about the fight against human trafficking worldwide, but she describes the importance of battling the issue here in Waco specifically.
“I think sex trafficking in particular really has a big reputation internationally, but people forget that it’s happening in our own city — so being able to engage it on a very local level is strengthening and empowering. Even just seeing how much Waco has recognized the issue and taken a stand against it has been really powerful,” Ullrich said.
Students at Baylor have an opportunity to affect human trafficking by joining UnBound College or another anti-trafficking institution or becoming educated on the issue to educate others or volunteering in various outreach events.
“From a practical standpoint, a lot of ways that college students are engaging with sex trafficking on a daily basis is through pornography, so really taking a stand against that and recognizing that it’s real but getting help and freedom from that is very possible,” Ullrich said.