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Houston Chronicle: Father of four runs across Texas to end child trafficking

Houston Chronicle: Father of four runs across Texas to end child trafficking

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October 10, 2014 12:32PM – BY AMBER ELLIOTT – Jason Arcemont and his family went to church at Salem Lutheran in Tomball one Sunday last summer. “It was just another day at church,” he says. Until he heard the message from the guest speakers, representatives from Love146, an international human rights organization working to end child trafficking and exploitation. They talked about the 300,000 children currently at risk of being prostituted in the United States.

Arcemont thought about his own four kids – Cory, Nina, Katelynn and Dakota – and the message struck a chord. “I took the flier home and set it on my nightstand as a reminder that I wanted to do something,” he recalls. “I considered donating money or time or running a 5K, but those all seemed too small.”

Arcemont learned that Houston is a major hub for human trafficking.

“There’s a group here in Houston called Elijah Rising that gives bus tours showing where brothels are located – right in our neighborhoods,” he says. “They’re much more prevalent than most people think.”

Months later, Arcemont had a revelation: He would run a one-month trek across Texas to raise awareness and funds for child-trafficking and sex-slavery victims.

“I’d had the idea before but always thought that there’s no way it could happen,” says Arcemont, who owns Brightbox, a local marketing firm. “Now I have something to push me.” He had practiced martial arts in high school but didn’t start running until his mid-20s. He immediately fell for the sport. For the past 10 years, Arcemont, who’s 35, has sought out new challenges – including an ultramarathon in Huntsville. But in the past year he has canceled all those races to train.

He started his 850-mile trek, now-called the Texas FreedomRun, in El Paso on Oct. 1. His wife, Amber Arcemont, describes the journey as “30 marathons in 30 days.”

Each week, Jason covers approximately 200 miles, she says. But he isn’t alone. Sewell Cadillac donated a car for Arcemont’s support team, which trails him to make sure he stays in his lane and gets fed. A photographer is shooting the journey for a commemorative book. Supporters who donate $50 or more will receive a copy of the book and may download a letter at
TexasFreedomRun.com asking Gov. Perry to endorse a social media campaign to draw attention to the cause. Through charity events with supporters including Woodforest National Bank, JulieBeth Handbags and Américas restaurants, Texas FreedomRun has raised $20,000 so far.

Arcemont already has made stops in Van Horn and Fort Stockton to talk about the commercial sex trade in local churches and schools. He has several more stops scheduled in Giddings, Spring and Beaumont. The run is set to conclude on Oct. 31 in Orange.

“If everyone did just a little, we could put a stop to child trafficking,” Arcemont says. “My running 30 miles a day is nothing compared to the hell that these kids are living in.”

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