TCR/File photo
Peterson native and former R-P athletic star, Kristen Ostrem, is running in the 30 for Freedom race on May 27 to raise money to combat human trafficking. Here she is shown in the annual race she organizes in Rushford each July.
TCR/File photo Peterson native and former R-P athletic star, Kristen Ostrem, is running in the 30 for Freedom race on May 27 to raise money to combat human trafficking. Here she is shown in the annual race she organizes in Rushford each July.
“We exist to end human trafficking in our lifetime. That’s what we’re shooting for,” said “30 for Freedom” founder Brent Silkey.

In 2016, Silkey established the first annual 30 for Freedom run in the Twin Cities. With 123 runners, 30 for Freedom broke its goal of raising $30,000 and instead brought in $81,346.

This year on May 27, organizers expect the number to be even larger, and Peterson native Kristen Ostrem plans to be a part of this.

“I have some friends that did the 30 for Freedom last year when it first started,” she explained.

Ostrem ran for Rushford-Peterson during her entire high school career. She started running track-and-field in seventh grade and joined cross-country as a sophomore.

When she went to college at Evangel University, she set school records for track and was also named All-American.

She’s used her passion for running and for making the world a better place by starting the Operation Christmas Child 5K that takes place over Rushford Days.

But, now Ostrem is running to fight against sex trafficking – a growing trend that sees children stolen or sold into prostitution.

According to F.R.E.E. International, a group that works extensively to fight human trafficking, every 30 seconds, someone becomes a victim of human trafficking.

“This is a horrible crime that is happening to people, and by doing this run, by investing in organizations that are helping the helpless, it’s a way that I can help,” Ostrem explained.

How 30 for Freedom started

On Dec. 28, 2015, Silkey began preparations for his first run. As Silkey’s 30th birthday was five months away, he had a dream to get 30 of his friends to run 30 miles with him for his 30th birthday and to raise $30,000 to combat this growing problem.

He told his friend who served in the Marine Corps about the goal; he told Silkey, “I hear briefings more than I want to admit, and we have to do something about this.”

Silkey’s friend handed him $100, and from there, Silkey decided to make this dream a reality.

After nearly tripling his goal, Silkey has decided to up the ante and has been in communication with several groups to participate.

So far, 25 youth groups have committed to join this year as well as several Chi Alpha Ministry Groups, Master’s Commission Christian groups and several senior pastors who will promote the event at their churches.

Apart from the race that will begin at Cedar Valley Church in Bloomington, Silkey has spoken with key organizers in several other cities that will have their own chapter of the race, including: Seattle, Urbandale, Iowa, Bismark, N.D., Pensacola, Fla., and Birmingham, Ala.

Silkey also said that he is waiting to hearing if there will be a race in Alaska as well.

The race will partner with current organizations that fight human trafficking: Project Rescue, F.R.E.E. International and Venture.

Getting involved

There are three ways to get involved in this run: sponsor a runner like Ostrem, join the race as a runner or volunteer to help with the actual event.

There are three race categories: a 5K option, a 13.1 mile half marathon or 30 mile run. Ostrem will be running the half marathon. Her goal is to raise $3,000 of the overall goal of $250,000.

“Sometimes we don’t get involved, because we don’t think it’ll do anything,” began Ostrem. “But the organizations that we are donating to are doing things. They are effective. Getting on board with campaigns like this one, we get to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. All for the purpose of loving and helping people.”

“It is so disturbing to hear that that happens today. It really messes with me big time. I have a heart of a protector,” added Silkey.

“Every single person who crossed the finish line last year came to me and said, ‘My life has changed because of this run. I’ve never been a part of something so deeply impactful before.’”

To sign up to run, to sign up as a volunteer or to donate money, go to 30forfreedom.org or visit Ostrem’s Facebook for a link of where you can support her specific fundraising goal.