Human trafficking is happening in cities across the United States and right here in the Bay Area.
Often it happens in plain sight. Saturday morning about 500 runners woke up early for a 5k and 10k around Lake Merritt in Oakland to raise money for programs to help victims.
The event is called Run for Courage and this was the first year for the race to end human trafficking.
Vicki Zito is the woman behind run for courage. She started the non-profit after her own 17 year old daughter was abducted from the Sacramento area and was reportedly put into a sex trafficking ring in the east bay.
“Five years ago my daughter went to a local grocery store to grab a soda and she never came home. Her perpetrator took her from the Safeway parking lot and within five hours had taken pictures of her and posted her for sale for sex on Craisglist and within 12 hours was actively trafficking her from the Rocklin Area to the Bay Area,” Zito said.
The FBI found Zito’s daughter eight days later in Fremont.
Zito says she is doing well and is an amazingly resilient child.
Her experience prompted Zito to start the foundation in order to educate people about human sex trafficking and its prevalence throughout the country.
The money from today’s run will go toward caring for the victims and preventative programs that teach young people how to keep themselves and others safe.