Running to Raise Money to Prevent Human Trafficking in War Zones

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Provided by Lars Hasseler

Lars Hasseler, a resident of Manassas until February 2021, has set his sights on running 100km in 2021 and preventing human trafficking in war zones.

Hasseler, a father of one and army veteran, said, “I’ve been a casual runner since enlisting in the Army in 2007. The Army motivated me to push past myself and what I thought I could do. In the last year, I started thinking an ultramarathon was within reach and I began training. We regularly underestimate our capabilities, and I want to begin pushing my mind as well as my body to aim higher and dig deeper. Ultrarunning will do all of that. My goal is to run two ultramarathons in 2021 (a combined total of 100 km) and raise over $5,000 to protect children from human trafficking.” The first run will be the Dahlgren Heritage Rail Trail 50k in King George, Virginia, on Aug. 7, 2021. The second will be a yet-to-be-determined run in October or November.

Hasseler is dedicating funds from his ambitious runs to Lift Up the Vulnerable (LUV), a New York-based non-profit that lifts up vulnerable children and women at risk to human trafficking and oppression in the war zones of Sudan and South Sudan.

According to the Department of Defense, human trafficking is a crime in which force, fraud or coercion is used to compel a person to perform labor, services or commercial sex. It affects all populations: adults, children, men, women, foreign nationals and U.S. citizens, and all economic classes.

LUV describes human trafficking as the exploitation of vulnerability. In conflict zones such as Sudan and South Sudan, which are marked by violence and extreme poverty, the most vulnerable are kidnapped as child soldiers, sold as sex slaves, and trapped in forced labor. Children and women are always at highest risk.

When asked how a man from Virginia opted to end trafficking in war zones, Hasseler said, “I traveled to Swaziland and South Africa in the summers of 2005 and 2006, and I saw firsthand extreme poverty. What I came to discover is that there are even higher rates of poverty in Sudan and South Sudan; combined with forced labor, trafficking, exploitation, and danger from war. For over fifteen years, I’ve been supporting an indigenously directed anti-trafficking ministry led by Lift Up the Vulnerable (LUV).  LUV provides safety, housing, physical and emotional rehabilitation, and opportunities through education and training to children and women who are most vulnerable in conflict-zones. LUV goes where most people won’t or can’t, loving those whose daily concerns are basic needs that I take for granted. Children and women who suffer most in these environments will be the recipients of anything you give.”

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