I’m part of a trio of best buds and travelers called The Lost Girls who, more than five years ago, quit our media jobs to set out together on a yearlong trip around the world. Now we’re calling ourselves The Runaway Bridesmaids after we asked ourselves a question that many women have often pondered: What were we going to do with our old bridesmaid dresses that our married pals swore we could totally wear again?
Rather than let those expensive dresses collect dust in our closets, we decided to prove our bride friends right and put them back to use for a good cause. Except the next time we wore them, we strapped on running shoes instead of heels to race in our dresses and raise money to help build a shelter for the children of sex workers with the first-ever Runaway Bridesmaids Race.
First, we gathered a team of men and women to wear dresses and race The NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile Presented by Nissan on September 22. Check out this slideshow to see photos from the race. Now five of us are training for the ING New York City Marathon—which we will be running in dresses (that's 26.2 miles!)—on November 4 to continue fundraising for the cause.
Runaway Bridesmaids has actually been a long time coming: One of my most life-changing trip experiences happened when we volunteered through Village Volunteers at a school in Kenya and I met a little girl named Esther who had literally been abandoned on a doorstep as a baby. It was through volunteering that it really hit home for me just how lucky I was to have been given so many other opportunities just because I was born to a middle-class family in the USA by chance.
Then I read the book Half the Sky and learned that more 3 million women and girls worldwide are victims of this modern-day slave trade—and many die in their late 20s of AIDS. (In comparison, the peak year of the trans-Atlantic African slave trade was just under 80,000.) I wanted to give myself and other people a way to join the fight to help break the cycle of sex trafficking. But I was just one woman and wondered how I could really do anything at all to have an impact on such an enormous problem?
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I figured that I loved to run, and plenty of my friends have raised money for important causes by racing. So I teamed up with Village Volunteer’s partner New Light, an organization that gives shelter to the kids of sex workers in India’s largest red light district. By marrying my love of running with an outlet to give back, Runaway Bridesmaids was born.
Here’s How YOU Can Help Fight Sex Trafficking: