Emily Holian, a junior nursing major, recently led a group that completed the Blue Cross Broad Street Run in Philadelphia to raise awareness of global human enslavement.

Racing toward freedom

UD nursing student leads running team to raise funds for vulnerable children


8:05 a.m., May 11, 2012--When Emily Holian learned that there are 27 million slaves across the globe—many of them young girls born into poverty and drawn into sex trafficking—she knew she had to do something about it.  And she had to do it now.

So on May 6, the University of Delaware nursing major found herself at the start line of the 2012 Blue Cross Broad Street Run with 40,000 other people. Holian finished the 10-mile event in just over 94 minutes, but she wasn’t running for time—she was running for Parul.

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Parul is a seven-year-old orphan in India who already knows that she wants to be a teacher. Her chances of reaching that goal improved when Holian and her 29 teammates crossed the finish line in Philadelphia, having raised almost $5,000 for Parul through a nonprofit called As Our Own.  The organization provides rescue, aftercare, and prevention for children vulnerable to enslavement and exploitation. 

Holian had learned about As Our Own at Passion 2012, a Christian-based event aimed at encouraging college students to make a difference in the world. This year’s Passion conference focused on freedom, with students kicking in more than $3 million to stop human trafficking.

“They urged us to not be the generation that stood by and watched it happen,” Holian says. “I’m so blessed to have what I have that I felt called to do something now rather than to wait until I graduate.  I also wanted to do something to empower my peers and my friends.” 

Holian turned to “As Our Own Racing,” which uses running as a way for individuals and teams to raise awareness and funds.

“As Our Own chose 10 girls to be featured at 10 half-marathons in 10 cities across the nation,” Holian explains.  “But all of the races were pretty far away from Delaware, and I wanted my money to go to the cause, not to my plane fare.”

So she organized her own fundraising initiative around the Broad Street Run, recruiting 30 runners and another 20 people who made donations.  

“Many of us weren’t really runners,” Holian says, “so it was a challenge to train for and complete a 10-mile run. But it was a very unifying experience to have everyone in our group running for the same cause and to realize that we were running for someone other than ourselves.”

“The funny thing was,” she adds, “that I was really nervous in the days leading up to the run. But once I got to the start, I realized that we had already accomplished our goal.”

After she graduates next May, Holian plans to do mission work overseas. But in the meantime, she has already made a difference in the life of at least one little girl in India.  

Article by Diane Kukich

Video by Erick Huber

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