For 24: Melanie Carroll

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"For 24," is a year-long campaign telling the story of Freedom 4/24—from the survivors, world-changers, and volunteers to fundraisers, and behind-the-sceners. Our goal is to inform, inspire, and enrich your understanding of Freedom 4/24 and the work we do together.  

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#2: Meet Melanie Carroll

Much like completing a marathon, the fight to end human trafficking happens one step at a time. Melanie Carroll understands this well.

When she first became aware of the atrocities of sexual slavery and human trafficking, she determined to do something about it. So, she laced up her running sneakers began pounding the pavement to run a marathon while raising support for Freedom 4/24. It worked—Melanie raised more than $2,500!

If you’ve ever wondered what you can do to raise awareness and support for the fight for freedom, read Melanie’s story in her own words, and be INSPIRED to set your own creative goal!

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Name: Melanie Carroll

Age: 31

Family: Married to Mark, and blessed with three gorgeous children, Trinitee (9), Braeden (4), and Colton (2)

Occupation: Stay-at-home mom, wife and (occasional) volleyball coach

Hometown: La Verne, California

What I did to raise money for Freedom 4/24: Ran my first marathon!

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Turning Awareness Into Action

My daughter, husband and I registered to run R4TL last spring, 2014, at my alumni, Azusa Pacific University. My daughter ran in the 1k and my husband and myself in the 5k.

Human sex trafficking stirs my soul. Since first hearing about it from a guest speaker at my church, Christ Church of the Valley, I was immediately deeply troubled. It has kept me up numerous nights, and my heart aches at the staggering numbers of women and children who are targeted and sold. ... I wanted to take action and do something, anything that I could to get awareness out there and join in the fight. We need to protect our children.

The Fundraising Begins

I came into contact with Ryan Barr (Freedom 4/24 former Executive Race Director) after emailing Freedom 4/24 for ways I could get involved and help. Ryan set up a Go Fund Me page and I was able to write a little about what I was partaking in and also include the horrifying statistics of human sex trafficking.

Then I made up and handed out flyers to local businesses, family members, friends, acquaintances, neighbors and strangers. I also took to my social media pages to get the message and my fundraiser out there. I accepted any and all donations. From $2 on, no donation was ever too small; I knew every dollar would make a difference! I had family members raising awareness with those they knew and sharing on their own social media pages. It was incredibly amazing to feel the support from others, I have the utmost gratitude. My total funds raised was $2,523!

I love that Freedom 4/24 is so supportive and encouraging. Ryan helped me every step of the way. During the entire run, especially in the moments I didn't think I was going to make it, I kept my focus on the victims. This was for them and all the people who had rallied together to support and join in the fight against this horrendous crime.

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Signs on the Course

I have a special place in my heart for the number 22. It was the favorite number of my favorite cousin, Tiffany May Rivas, whom passed away in 2003. All throughout my training I would randomly see the number 22 somewhere, especially during some of the most difficult times! It wasn't necessarily anything new for me (to see the number amidst hard times), but it continued to present itself to me time and time again amidst my training runs.

While running the marathon, at three different points that happened to be the most difficult of the entire run—times I wanted to just give up—I would look up and see that number 22! First on a lifeguard tower, then a second life guard tower and then the 22-mile marker flag. The timing and the happenstance of me looking up at those moments are indescribable. I knew, this was not only to join the fight in saving the victims from human sex trafficking, but I was connected with my cousin as well. She gave me the strength to continue. To finish. To solidify that I was right where I was supposed to be, fulfilling a piece of God's will for my life.

Overcoming Obstacles

As well as being a mother of three and Law Enforcement officer's wife, amidst my training process, I was diagnosed as hypothyroid. I already suffer from arthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, hypoglycemia and digestion problems. A lot of old injuries began to flare up, and I had severe difficulty with fueling myself properly in diet (due to all my food intolerances). I even got sick with the flu and was taken to the hospital at one point. That is how I knew to keep going! I knew I was doing what God wanted. I know I physically shouldn't have been able to do it. My body wasn't naturally made for running. And that is exactly why God gave me the strength to finish this good work in me that He started. It is not me, but He.

After the Finish Line

I will not stop supporting this fight against this horrid epidemic. All I can pray and hope is that I've made a tiny dent in the battle and fight in raising awareness. It is constantly on my mind. Pray for the victims.