CSU hosts run for freedom, largest in United States

Graham Shapley

Getting people out of bed in the morning is a tough prospect, let alone at 7 a.m. Getting them to do exercise that early is an even harder feat.

On Sunday morning, though, nearly 1,000 people got out there and did a 5K run/walk for a good cause. Although breakfast burritos were provided for individuals who finished the run, the promise of breakfast was not the motivating factor.


A group of people running away from the starting line
The first runners begin the Aruna 5K on Sunday, July 21, 2019. The fastest runners of the day finished the race in under 15 minutes. (Josh Schroeder | Collegian)

The Aruna Run/Walk is a 5K race benefiting the Aruna Project, which focuses on freeing women from sexual exploitation and slavery in Indian brothels, teaching them the skills to become part of a workforce and employing them. 

This past Sunday, CSU was host to its second annual Aruna run, starting in The Oval and traveling around campus before looping back to finish where it started. Finishers were given medals to represent their participation as well as athletic bags.

“They identify women to rescue them from the brothels, they help them with their health, they help them with their finances, kind of a holistic approach,” said Lorraine Hardaway, the race director for this marathon and a member of Cru, a Christian outreach group that brought Aruna to campus and funded the race. “They teach them how to use sewing machines. The girls actually make these athletic bags.”
Women freed and employed by Aruna are known as artisans within the organization, and they work to create everything in Aruna’s store. This generates funds that go straight back to getting them the support they need. 

914 runners finished the run this year, and according to the Fort Collins Aruna Run Facebook page, over $22,000 were raised for the cause. More impressively, Fort Collins has now hosted the biggest Aruna run that has taken place in the United States.

“This year we have 16 races, and they vary in size,” said Sarah Prud’homme, the Aruna Run’s events director, who works with race directors to oversee and organize the races. “Some of them are 100 people or 150. To our mid-size, I’d say like in the (300-500) range. (This race) just beat Cincinnati, which is where we’re headquartered. It’s officially our largest race.”

“We had 4-year-olds registered, all the way up to 85 I think was our oldest,” Hardaway said. “All ages, lots of families. It’s a very family-oriented event.”

For the run, each runner is given a specific woman who they are working to free, whose name they know. This tactic directly connects the runners and invests them in the cause. With a specific name, they can know exactly who they’re helping.

“(This race) just beat Cincinnati, which is where we’re headquartered. It’s officially our largest race.”

“(Aruna) has identified a number of women that they want to free if they have the funds to get them out,” Hardaway said.

Aruna is a relatively young nonprofit, which has only been in operation for about five years. Prud’homme is very pleased with the outcome of this race. 

“The exciting thing is that 100% of our registration fees and any donations goes to free, empower and employ,” Prud’homme said. “We don’t use any of that money to cover our race expenses. So people know that when you donate, it is going here.”


Collegian reporter Graham Shapley can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @shapleygraham.