WATSONTOWN — Ginger Aikey and her son Dylan Lahr were happy to take part in the Barefoot Mile Awareness Walk at their church, Revival Tabernacle, on Sunday. It was for a good cause, though it was a little chilly on the feet.
"It was cold and muddy," Lahr, 22, said when they finished the walk on the church campus on Sunday. "I can't feel my feet."
The Watsontown mother and son were among about 50 or so walkers who walked the property barefoot, including around the upper and lower soccer fields, to raise awareness and raise money for Joy International, a nonprofit organization "devoted to the rescue, restoration, reintegration and prevention of children forced into the child sex trade," according to the group's literature.
The goal for the church's first walk for the cause was $10,000. Organizers did not immediately have a total on Sunday night for how much was raised.
The walk originally was scheduled to start at 4 p.m. but walkers began walking right after the 3 p.m. registration, when the temperature was around 50.
Vickie Eberhart, event coordinator, said the Colorado-based Joy International uses the funds to rescue the girls in the sex trade and get them couseling and get them integrated back into society. She said some of the girls get involved in the sex trade when they are children and may be involved for years because they are unable to get out.
"A lot of times they start out as children, young girls, and then they're in it for years because they can't get out, they're frightened for different reasons," Eberhart said. "And when they do get out, they need counseling, they need help, they need a shelter."
She said she saw Joy International founder Jeff Brodsky on television walking barefoot and learned he had been doing that for nine years. She was intrigued. She decided to hold a walk at the church and contacted Brodsky and recruited a couple volunteers, including Julie Savage and Diane Garcia.
"People have just been coming and it's awesome, the people that came and the people that donated, all for a good cause," Eberhart said.
Savage, of Hughesville, said she got involved when she heard Eberhart wanted to organize the event.
"I'm a trauma therapist," Savage said. "When I heard she wanted to do it, we got together."
She said church members want to make the walk an annual event.
"Hopefully earlier in the year when it's no so cold," she added.