Freedom 5K2Since 2013 Mandi Rishel and a close-knit group of runners — Pville Pacers — have raised nearly $8,000 to help fund the fight against human sex trafficking. Rishel was first made aware of the illegal industry while on a medical mission in Ethiopia in 2012.
Since, she has been on a mission to raise awareness and funding to help end what has become a global problem. To accomplish this mission, Rishel and the Pville Pacers created the Freedom 5K, which runs around Lake Alliance and through the city of Potterville each July.
“Every person involved in coordinating this race is volunteering their time, talents, and resources to make this event a huge success,” Rishel said. “The reason we work so hard is because we are committed to, and deeply passionate about, the cause this event supports.”
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Freedom 5K, which takes place Saturday, July 18 beginning at 8 a.m., are dedicated to rescuing girls from this horrific reality of sex trafficking, Rishel said.
“We partner with Crisis Aid International to rescue and rehabilitate girls by placing them in ‘safe homes’ where they are provided safety, food, clothing, shelter, and are taught a trade to ensure their future survival,” she said.
Last year’s event raised $4,800, a portion of which went to a Crisis Aid safe home in St. Louis. Richel said 83 girls graduated from the safe home with life skills that enable them to reintegrate into society.
She was able to return to Ethiopia last year as well to see some of the efforts paying off where it all began for her.
“I had the opportunity to work with many of the girls that have been rescued,” Rishel said. “They are such beautiful people and it is hard to imagine the horrors they have lived through.”
Runners can still register for this year’s 3rd annual Freedom 5K. Organizers have added a 10K course for those wanting to challenge themselves further. As is tradition, a free kids’ ½ mile race is also a part of the day’s festivities. All kids that finish the race will receive a medal and snow cone. Overall winners of the 5K will receive gift certificates for running gear and awards will be given to the top three finishers in each age bracket.
For more information or to register, visit