Turning Awareness Into Action

Lately, I’ve been on a Malcolm Gladwell kick. In the last two months, I’ve listened* to three of his books. In Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, he introduces the “bystander effect” by way of a story about the brutal murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964. In short, the bystander effect is the assumption that someone else will react and offer aid to a person in need when it is known that another is witness to or aware of the need; the more observers, the stronger the assumption.

My first reaction to hearing about this effect was to think I was above it. But upon further reflection, I realized the opposite was true. My mind went immediately to a time last fall.

With three kids in the backseat, my wife and I were leaving the gym around dinnertime when we witnessed a woman at a bus stop attempt in vain to get a bus to stop and let her on. I have no idea how the driver missed her. She was standing in plain sight. Still, despite the woman’s best attempts to flag him down, the driver did not stop.

As I drove by, my wife said, “Poor girl, we should give her a ride.”

I was not on the same page. I just wanted to get home, unload our children, and prepare dinner. Besides, she could call a friend or wait for the next bus. As I drove past her, I dismissively remarked, “We really don’t have room in the car anyway.”

The truth is we did have room in the car. In fact, we had an entire third row that was folded flat. I’m embarrassed to say I just didn’t want to be bothered with stopping the car, folding up the third row and going out of my way to drive a stranger to her destination. I assumed someone else would help this woman, or that another bus would pick her up shortly.

If presented with the same scenario as a hypothetical, I’d have told you I would have definitely stopped to help—I mean, what kind of person would just drive by?

I’m not proud of my reaction to a visible need, which got me thinking: How do I react to a need I don’t see? How do I—how do we—react to the realization that sexual exploitation and human trafficking is going on all around us? How do we respond when confronted with the fact that an estimated 21 to 30 million people are enslaved around the world today? Do we act or are we too busy to be bothered and presume that someone else will? Do we “like” a post or “retweet” a story about human trafficking, dust off our hands and call it a day?

Awareness of an issue is not enough. Awareness of the plight of the woman at the bus stop did not give her a ride home. Acknowledging that she missed her bus did nothing for her. Awareness must be followed with action.

Likewise, mere awareness does not fight sexual exploitation or human trafficking. Unless and until we turn our awareness into action, we are destined to be bystanders.

What will you do to fight the bystander effect? How will you turn your awareness into action? Start today with a simple action—donate to Freedom 4/24.

*In my work as an attorney, I drive about 300-400 miles per week. Audio books are the only thing that keep me sane. And awake. 

- Post contributed by Tim Spaulding, Freedom 4/24 President

Sex Trafficking and the Super Bowl

In less than a week, thousands will descend on MetLife Stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. This year’s big game will generate literally millions in commercial slots alone, forgetting the income generated from ticket sales, food and alcohol sales, and NFL-related events. But it’s not just large corporations and local businesses looking to make a profit during the festivities. At all major sporting events, the criminal underworld of sex trafficking and human exploitation thrives and grows around the event, but there is none so lucrative for traffickers as the Super Bowl. The reason traffickers target large events is to meet the increased demand for illicit sex that results from the influx of people, particularly men, into one area for a recreational event.

Over the last few years there has been a noticeable increase in trafficking during past Super Bowl games. For example at the 2009 Super Bowl, 24 children brought to the event for sex were rescued.[1] Further, Miami saw an increase of 10,000 prostitutes in advance of the big event. Finally, at the 2011 Super Bowl, Dallas area police arrested 133 for underage prostitution.[2]

While these statistics give us some sense of the issue, they do not reveal the entire picture. Tracking this covert crime is challenging.  Many states laws do not distinguish between victims of sex trafficking, including minors, and those engaged in voluntary prostitution. For this reason, incidents of trafficking often go unreported for fear of prosecution. However, host cities, law enforcement, and anti-trafficking groups are becoming increasingly aware of the connection between major events and sex trafficking operations and are taking steps to stamp out this criminal activity.

The New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force, as well as community groups dedicated to fighting human trafficking are taking proactive steps to combat the sex trafficking. Their efforts include targeted outreach efforts to assist potential victims and at-risk individuals who may be exploited during this year’s Super Bowl and the weeks leading up to it. Additionally, other organizations like the Polaris Project have been working with local organizations, community groups, and law enforcement to coordinate outreach and community awareness events and to provide training and technical assistance in an effort to combat sex trafficking throughout the event.

It is our hope that Super Bowl Sunday and similar sporting events will one day be celebrated without sexual exploitation. Until then, it is the charge of anti-trafficking activists to engage a large audience by spreading awareness and to support organizations currently fighting this heinous crime.

Please join Freedom 4/24 in raising awareness and support for our partner organizations by sharing this article, learning more about what current organizations are doing to combat sex trafficking around the Super Bowl, and by praying for freedom for the exploited.

For more information about the NJ Human Trafficking Task Force please visit their website or contact them at 973-929-3064.

If you suspect trafficking, contact your local police and the 24-hour National Human Trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888.

 Article contributed by: Sarah Romero, Freedom 4/24 Awareness Volunteer

[1] U.S. Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood, The National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, August 2010, 33.

[2] Meghan Casserly, "Sex and The Super Bowl: Indianapolis Puts Spotlight on Teen Sex Trafficking," Forbes, February 20, 2012,


Christmas Newsletter from our President


As we enter the Christmas season, I want to take a few moments to give thanks to God and you for the strides Freedom 4/24 made in 2013 to bring freedom and do justice. With your help we funded the expansion of efforts to rescue minor girls from sex slavery in India, built a safe house for exploited women in Uganda, and sponsored a Christmas outreach for women trapped in the sex trade in Thailand.

But these efforts are not enough. To be strategic in our goal of eradicating sexual exploitation and human trafficking we must expanded our focus beyond just responsive measures and include preventative efforts working to avoid the problem in the first place. We cannot forget that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

It is with prevention in mind we are launching a new awareness campaign in 2014. This multifaceted campaign will be aimed at various audiences including parents, teachers, students, law enforcement officers, transportation workers, and the general public.

At Freedom 4/24 we believe freedom not only begins the day a girl is rescued, but it also begins the day each individual is informed of the realities of human trafficking in his or her own community and is motivated to act.

Join us in 2014 as we advance our mission of raising awareness, bringing freedom, and doing justice. By donating $24 a month you are taking a stand against the rising tide of injustice in the United States and abroad. No amount is too small, no effort too little, and no prayer ineffective.

Thank you for your financial support and partnership.

Tim Spaulding President

Upcoming Pre-Race Events

Anti-Trafficking Expo & Race Packet Pickup

We're pleased to announce this year's packet pickup event will include an anti-trafficking expo featuring 9 organizations working to bring freedom and do justice! Each organization will highlight their work to combat human trafficking and provide information on how you can get involved in the fight.

Fun for the Whole Family

In addition to the anti-trafficking expo, Lynchburg-based Pier 19 will provide live music and multiple food vendors will be on site selling an assortment of foods and desserts. For the kids, there will be a bounce house and inflatable slide compliments of FunZone Inflatables.

In short, the packet pickup will be a fun but meaningful event. Come hear what's being done in Virginia and internationally to combat trafficking.

Where: Shellenberger Field Lynchburg College 1501 Lakeside Drive Lynchburg, VA 24502 Map

When: Friday, October 11, 2013 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Trafficking Survivor Shares Her Story

During college, Sara worked at Macy's selling high-end suits in the men's department. One day a regular customer who was always very friendly, polite and complimentary invited her to a party. Sara agreed....

Come hear Sara's story of how she spent three years being trafficked around the US and Canada, escaped the clutches of her traffickers, found Christ and how she's now using her experiences to raise awareness and speak out against sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Where: The Drowsy Poet 3700 Candlers Mountain Rd. Lynchburg, VA 24502 Map

When: Thursday, October 10, 2013 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Freedom 4/24 announces two new partnerships

It’s been a productive first half of 2013 for Freedom 4/24 and we’re excited to announce partnerships with two new organizations that further our goal of bringing freedom and doing justice. In March we formed a new partnership with Freedom Firm, an India-based NGO dedicated to rescuing, restoring, and seeking justice for victims of Child Prostitution. On behalf of you, our donors and contributors, we’ve come along side Freedom Firm and funded a grant request of over $25,000 USD to fund the opening of a new field office in Nagpur, India, a city with a readily available supply of minor girls in prostitution and where no other NGOs are actively combating the problem. Since funding this project, Freedom Firm’s operatives in Nagpur have completed a number of investigations, conducted two raids, and rescued a number of minor girls including “Preeti,” who is believed to be 11-12 years old and is the youngest child rescued by Freedom Firm to date.

Christine's HouseIn April, we partnered with Sports Outreach Institute by contributing $20,000 to build and open a safe house for victims of sexual exploitation in Gulu, Uganda. Sports Outreach has been active in northern Uganda for a number of years and continually seek relational and innovative ways to meet the needs of people in the area. Two weeks ago this facility was dedicated as a safe home for victims of rape, as well as girls who have escaped child bride marriages and other forms of sexual exploitation. Called “Christine’s House” after Freedom 4/24 founder Christine Gelatt, the home will be a beacon of hope in a region ravaged by decades of civil war where young women were often the victims of heinous crimes. Being built on the Good News Community Center, also known as the Koro Farm, the women will receive job skills training, counseling and have the opportunity to be a part of a community where many will experience the redemptive love of Christ for the first time. Right now, the final touches are being put on the building to make it fully operational. It is our prayer that the home will be filled with the laughter and joy of rescued girls by September, 2013.

If you’ve ever run in one of our Run For Their Lives races, attended one of our fundraisers, or donated even one dollar, then you have had a hand in the work we do. Your donations are the sole reason that “Priya” and many girls like her have been rescued from a life of slavery, abuse, and rape. Your sacrificial giving allows us to build places of safety for victims of exploitation. Thank you for your support. Thank you for being part of the team. Thank you for joining us as we seek to be the hands and feet of Christ.

Bringing freedom, doing justice.

-The Freedom 4/24 Team