A “Walk For Freedom” foot parade will be held in downtown Benton on Saturday, Oct. 15, according to event organizer Michelle Pettit.  Officers with the Benton Police Department will assist the participants along the parade route merely by providing safety precautions, such as signaling when to cross roadways.

Anyone wanting to participate can register at 2 p.m. at CW Lewis Stadium. At 2:30 p.m. the Walk For Freedom will begin. The parade route will follow sidewalks up S. Market St. to N. Market St., then they’ll make a right on E. North St. followed by another right onto North Main St. down to E. South St. and back to S. Market St. until ending back at CW Lewis Stadium.

Pettit said the main purpose of the Walk For Freedom, which is sponsored by A21, is to bring Human Trafficking Awareness to communities.

“[It] is a global awareness event that aims to shine a spotlight on modern-day slavery, and raise funds to allow A21 to continue rescuing and restoring the survivors of human trafficking,” she said. “At its core, the walk is simply an outward expression of A21's unrelenting desire to make freedom and justice a reality for every man, woman and child on the planet. The goal of the walk is not to protest, hand out flyers or simply stay fit. The goal for the Walk For Freedom is to take a united stance that turns awareness into action.”

Pettit expects there could be about 80 participants or more.

“The overall message is simple - taking a united stance that turns awareness into action,” she said.

Pettit said there are more than 27 million men, women and children still in bondage across the globe today. Every 30 seconds, another person becomes a victim of human trafficking and only 1-2% of victims are rescued, she said.

“The average age of a human trafficking victim is 12 years old,” Pettit said. “The goal is to bring the victims percent (%) down and work on getting stiffer laws/punishment for the traffickers.”

For more information about the A21 Walk For Freedom or to donate to the cause, visit www.a21.org