Lose weight: Help save a child

January, 2018 Posted in Community, Food And Drink

By Mary Owen

Anytime Fitness hopes to raise $10,000 during its upcoming Pound-a-Thon, a six-week, weight-loss fundraiser for Operation Underground Railroad. Based in California, the organization rescues and rehabilitates victims of child sex trafficking. O.U.R. claims to have rescued 962 victims and assisted in arrests of more than 422 traffickers around the world in its three-year existence.

“The first annual Pound-a-Thon for O.U.R. is open to gym members and the general public,” said Keith Halladay, general manager for Anytime Fitness. “Participants will have their initial weight recorded at either the Stayton or Albany locations during the week of Jan. 15. Final weigh-in will be on Feb. 26.”

Beginning Jan. 2, participants can register for $20 at either location. For six weeks, participants will collect per-pound pledges or flat donations. Cash prizes of $250 will be awarded to the participant that raises the most money and the participant that loses the highest percentage of weight. All net proceeds will be donated to O.U.R.

“We volunteer and donate to various local charities throughout the year, but we wanted to find a charity that we could ‘adopt’ and really put our heart and soul into,” Halladay said. “As I was driving home from work last spring, I heard an interview on the radio with the founder of O.U.R., Tim Ballard, and his director of aftercare, Jessica Mass. They shared many statistics and stories about child sex trafficking and what O.U.R. is doing to fight it.”

Mass talked about the plight of a 4-year-old girl that she took in as a foster child, a story that touched Halladay’s heart.

“This girl had been ‘rented’ out by her parents since she was 6 months old,” he said. “As a father of three daughters, my heart broke when I heard this. I knew that I had found our cause, and that I would do whatever I could to help.”

Halladay said about 50 people attended The Abolitionists, a child trafficking documentary, at Santiam Hospital.

“By the end of the film, there were many tears,” he said. “This was a good start in raising local awareness.”

According to O.U.R., about two million children are trafficked worldwide with 250,000 living in the United States. An estimated 10,000 are smuggled into the country every year, and others are lured online or become victims because of sparse parental supervision, the organization reports.

Halladay hopes 100 people will sign up to participate in the Pound-a-Thon.

“We also have plans to host a 5K run during the summer,” he said. “Nothing is concrete yet.” Anytime Fitness also plans to continue showing The Abolitionists occasionally, he added.

“The rights to the film were recently taken over by a new company because the original company was dissolved,” Halladay said. “They are still ironing out some legalities, so we are patiently waiting for permission to show the film again.”

Sign up for the Pound-a-Thon at www.anython.com/Pound-a-Thon-for-OUR.

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