We’re delighted to announce that Team Freedom 2022 raised more than $178,000 at the annual Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic, taking the total raised by the event past $1 million since the first Team Freedom run back in 2011.
Team Freedom, which is a collaboration between Hope for Justice and Christian radio station The JOY FM, was this year joined by over 250 people who ran a range of different distances from 5km to a half marathon (21km) over the weekend.
From teenagers to septuagenarians, a wide variety of runners took part in the event for us in Tampa, Florida, united by the same goal; to help us rescue more victims, help them rebuild their lives, and help us prevent exploitation.
Marie Popko, Head of Events at Hope for Justice, said: “We’re all still buzzing after an incredibly successful Team Freedom 2022, and would like to say an enormous thank you and congratulations to each and every runner.
“To take us past the $1 million mark is a truly phenomenal achievement, and will make a lasting difference to the lives of people trapped in exploitation.
“After last year’s Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic had to be cancelled due to Covid-19, it was truly wonderful to see so many people gathered together, pounding the streets to help us end the exploitation of human beings.
“We are also very grateful to The JOY FM, for everything that they do to help us make the event a success, spread the word about the event, and about human trafficking itself. We are already looking forward to Team Freedom 2023. Together, we can change lives and end human trafficking.”
Races took place all day on Saturday and Sunday, as well as a 5km walk. This year for the first time, some runners took part in their own home town and ran any distance, at any time.
The Team Freedom Worship Rally concert
Team Freedom was established 11 years ago, by Hope for Justice co-founder and top recording artist Natalie Grant, and The JOY FM Morning Cruise presenter Carmen Brown.
As part of this year’s event, on Saturday evening participants were treated to a Worship Rally concert performed by Natalie Grant at Grace Family Church in Tampa. The event kicked off with Carmen Brown welcoming all the Team Freedom runners.
Hope for Justice Chief Executive Tim Nelson, who also ran as part of Team Freedom, took to the stage to talk about the lasting impact that the funds raised by our runners has made, and the crowd also heard some real-life stories about survivors of human trafficking.
Natalie then performed some of her most-loved songs to a church packed full of Team Freedom runners and their families, friends and supporters.
Runners also had the chance to celebrate their achievement together on the night, when the final total raised by Team Freedom was revealed to the delighted and cheering crowd.
You can watch the Worship Rally at the link below: