Published: 23rd January 2019
2 Million Steps to Hope: How these marathon runners are helping fight human trafficking
John Moriarty talks about his mega-marathon against human trafficking which flagged off in Chennai on January 18, 2019
India is ranked #1 in human trafficking. Shocking? Not really. The real question is what are we doing about it. While most of us stick to our comfort zones, some people are out there combatting this social evil through sports.
I would rather run to raise awareness for a cause than run a 5k marathon for a gold medal.
John Moriarty, Project Leader
2 Million Steps to Hope, a mega marathon run is an initiative to raise awareness against human trafficking through running and cycling. Ohio-based John Moriarty, who initiated the project tells us what drives him to fight for the protection of women and children from human trafficking. He explains, "I have a beautiful daughter and while in university, she was running and was attacked by a bunch of strangers. This incident traumatised her, but eventually, she turned out okay. This incident triggered my passion to raise awareness against human trafficking and I am glad to be doing it for India."
Sponsorship: Rotary International and Sparrow's hope are the main sponsors of the mega-marathon
So how do they do it you ask? John explains, " Our game plan for the year 2019 is to do the Mega Marathon Run from Chennai all the way to Bhubaneshwar (Orissa) over a period of 16 days. We flagged off our run on January 18. We stop at schools along the way and teach students what it means to be aware of their surroundings and we also give them safety measures. We cover 20% of the distance running, the remaining is covered via cycling. So that is 20km running and 65km cycling every day. We make pitstops along the way for lunch or dinner and we accommodate ourselves in affordable lodges." He goes on to talk about how he and the rest of the team trained for the same," The team consists of eight people and the two main runners are Melvyn and I. We did quite a bit of training together. But mostly we trained on our own as we were living in two different countries. For me cycling a 130-140 km became a routine and also running 50-60 km every week. That's as far as my training goes."
Initial days: The 2 Million Steps to Hope Mega Marathon Run was initiated in 2017 where the team ran from Bombay to Chennai over a period of 36 days
So what can schools expect if the team from 2 million Steps to Hope paid them a visit? John tells us more, "We head straight to schools and raid the assembly (not literally)," he laughs. He continues, "We teach these kids what danger to look out for and how to react when danger approaches. Yes! we also teach them self-defence. We try to educate them on terms like 'trafficking', 'slavery', 'child labour' and 'abuse'. We focus on the exploitation of women and kidnapping schemes used by traffickers."