Southwest District “Runs for a Reason” & Places in Top 15 Fundraisers to Stop Human Trafficking
Kudos to the Southwest District for already raising over $67,000 to fight human trafficking.
Rumor has it, Rev. Diane McGehee will shave her head -- if all nine districts rise to the occasion and raise a total of a million dollars to fight human trafficking via the Reason2Race events across the state by year-end. She shares, “I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from the Southwest District as they hit the streets to raise awareness and help in the fight to stop human trafficking. What a witness to our community that as United Methodists and followers of Jesus, we are called to help end this heinous form of slavery.”
With over 20 participants, the Parkway UMC team joined the team of 50+ from Sugar Land FUMC and others at the Katy Half Marathon recently. Rev. Matt Neeley of Parkway says, “We're excited to partner with the Center for Missional Excellence to help fight human trafficking and help people trying to exit from it. Our Parkway Student Ministries made this one of their priorities a couple of years ago and now the church has joined in the fight. What an incredible privilege it is to serve Christ in this way!”
Adds Matt, “This was our first time to do something like this and we learned a lot about how to do it and how not to do it. We made it one of our highest priorities this spring and made sure we promoted it in every way we could - worship announcements, social media, weekly e-blast, etc . . . Our people were excited to participate in the running of the race and I was very pleased with the turnout.” They learned a few lessons about the fundraising logistics, but are already looking forward to next year. Notes Matt, “Overall, I'm pleased with the funds we raised as individuals and as a church. Meanwhile, we still have a lot of educating to do because none of us really understand just how devastating this issue is to our community on so many levels.”
Administrative Assistant Libby Patton, a team leader for Sugar Land FUMC shares her motivation and rewards for participating. “What impacted me the most was being heartbroken as I think about the innocent children who are robbed of their childhood in this way,” she says. “And, at a time when our country is really divided over some major issues, this cause unified our church and community behind a cause we can all get behind and that felt great.” Serving as an enthusiastic cheerleader for the 10 fundraisers she recruited and the 80 others that were involved in some way, Libby found humor to be very effective in her fundraising efforts. “I took to social media and posted some very silly pictures of myself,” she admits, “and challenged my friends to donate money if I made them laugh.” Adds Libby, “I also used my birthday and other gift-giving events to be donation opportunities instead.”
Participating in the event was a family affair for the Dorsetts. “My husband ran with one of our children, I walked with another, and the two older ones paired up and we were all just glad to be able to do something about this issue,” shares Angie. “It’s not a topic you particularly want to discuss with your children, but it is a real issue for everyone nowadays, so it opened up many conversations in our family as we learned how prevalent human trafficking has become and the extreme methods they use to lure children into it. Our family was glad to take an active role to help.”
Bill Baumeyer of Reason2Race, congratulated the Texas Annual Conference on having a team in the top 15 fundraisers on the inaugural race in this district challenge. Notes Bill, “It was a great day! The SW District team was awesome. I think everyone had a great time. As of mid February the team had raised $65,086. They also took 2,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,13, and 14th top fundraiser spots and will receive an additional $2,100. This brings the total to $67,186. I was speaking with one of the leaders and they were excited to be one of the first teams to serve as an example for the other congregations.”
District Superintendent Jay Jackson was also eager to hand out the kudos. “I first want to recognize Rev. Diane McGehee for her tireless efforts to rally support for combatting human trafficking. I also am thrilled with the response from so many of my churches in the area, especially Rev. Trey Allen and the folks at Sugar Land First UMC. They went above and beyond to get runners and sponsorships for this worthy cause. Their effort to raise so much money and awareness in the fight against human trafficking is just one more reason why I am so proud to be the Superintendent of the Southwest District.” These funds will be designated for Harvest House and Agape International for furthering their ministry to victims of human trafficking.
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For TAC UMC t-shirts for your team, contact Ana Robles (firstname.lastname@example.org). Check http://info.reason2race.com/tacteams/ to know which races are coming in your district throughout the year. Team coordinators and their recruits can set up funding pages to get started. Others are also needed to set up information tables, cheer runners and pray.