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Volunteers are walking tall for those who can’t walk away.

You should never judge a person, until you walk a mile in their shoes. And if you walk a little over three miles in stilettos … your heels are going to hurt.

But organizers say those pumps should be painful. Karena Steir is the creator of Heels of Hope, a 5K awareness campaign for human trafficking. “Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world,” said Steir.

At the age of 14, men trafficked Brittany Phillips outside of a grocery store in Cedar Rapids. A few months later undercover police rescued Phillips in Chicago. Now 22-years-old Phillips is a survivor and an advocate, handing out nameless dog tags at the finish line.“It means a lot to me what they’re doing,” said Phillips.

The tags symbol the nameless people that still need to be rescued.

While some switch into tennis shoes, Derrick Houdesheldt walks tall. From Omaha, Houdesheldt was the first to register for Heels of Hope, and the last to finish. Speed walking in a women`s 14, Houdesheldt now understands how heels work.

But the damage done by human trafficking. “I think someone could picture it or think about it, but emotionally, I don’t think they’ll ever really understand. Until you live it, I don’t think you ever really could,” said Phillips.

Brittany says no one should be forced to walk down that road.


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