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Fitness Competition Raises Money to Combat Human Trafficking

Tens of thousands of young girls in the United States are being recruited into sex trafficking every year, with only a handful being lucky enough to be saved by law enforcement officials or government agencies. Lake Elsinore-based non-profit, Together Freedom, is working to grow the percentage of rehabilitation of youth affected by human trafficking before it’s too late.

Twenty-eight years ago, Together Freedom was started by retired San Diego Police Officer Phil Ludwig, the group’s CEO, after his experience on the force exposed him to the horrors of human trafficking.

“(Ludwig) worked a case, many years ago, where they were basically able to save a couple of girls who were about to be transported overseas to be sold into sex slavery over there,” Ryan Vollkommer of Together Freedom said. “Coming from that experience, after retirement, he wanted to find a way to help more girls.”

Working with local and federal law enforcement, Together Freedom is notified within 48 hours of a victim being saved.

“We get referrals from agencies like the police department, FBI, and Homeland Security. They will rescue the girl and then bring them to us and we take it from there,” Vollkommer said. “We, then, assess their needs, whether it be emotional or physical or mental, and provide those services to them, free of charge to them and their families.”

Together Freedom provides the young victims with food, shelter, clothing, medical and dental care, as well as counseling; dependent on each individual’s needs. After their assessment period, some of the girls are sent to Together Freedom’s 250-acre ranch and educational campus in Northern California for further care; all with the goal of providing them education, security and hope before returning to their families or new lives.

On Saturday, August 13th, Together Freedom will be hosting the 2nd Annual Together Freedom Fitness Competition, at P4L Fitness in Temecula, as a way to raise funds to continue their efforts.

The competition is geared toward CrossFit and weight lifting athletes. The full-day of fitness gives athletes the opportunity to experience some friendly competition, participate in events including barbell weight lifting, jump rope, a combination plank and push up called a “burpee,” and many more exercises familiar to CrossFit and strength training athletes.

“There are three total events; one is more focused on strength, one is more focused on endurance and, the other one is a mixture of both,” Vollkommer said. “All competitors get a swag bag, t-shirt and a medal and the podium placers get extra prizes. We have lots of really cool stuff donated by our sponsors.”

Together Freedom’s Fitness Competition is $89 per person. For those not wanting to compete, a $5 spectator donation is requested. All proceeds go directly to Together Freedom.

For more information on Together Freedom’s efforts to save and rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking, or to sign up for their Fitness Competition, visit togetherfreedom.org.

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Holly Herndon

Holly Herndon

Holly has been covering arts & entertainment in the Temecula Valley for as long as she has been a part of the community. She loves San Diego sports almost as much as she loves her family.

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