February 04, 2023

Local nonprofit attracts 118 to first 5K, half-marathon

The Phoenix Phase Initiative’s ‘Run For Her Life’ raises money to combat human trafficking

More than 100 people from across the country participated in a local nonprofit’s inaugural “Run For Her Life” 5K run and half-marathon April 17 in Newton. Expecting a maximum of 30 or so people, organizers were genuinely surprised and delighted by the higher turnout.

Collin and Danielle Barnes, founders of The Phoenix Phase Initiative, said about 83 people competed in-person — 52 for the 5K, 31 for the half-marathon — while the remaining 35 participants joined virtually. All the runners and one cyclist started and finished the marathon at Legacy Plaza.

“We’ve got runners from Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota,” Collin Barnes said. “We also had some come in from Florida and Georgia and New York for the in-person. And then we’ve got virtual runners in all those states plus Washington, Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia.”

One virtual runner was even competing all the way from a suburb of London.

The Phoenix Phase Initiative is a 501(c)(3) wanting to rid the world of sexual slavery. The group was created out of a desire to help women trapped in the sex industry from all over the world. The nonprofit says human trafficking and sexual exploitation are “global problems” that have existed for centuries.

Currently, The Phoenix Phase Initiative has hired an in-country coordinator in Uganda to establish the nonprofit’s presence in the African country, Danielle Barnes said. Once the group raises enough money, it will be able to purchase land and build a house to help trafficked women.

The Phoenix Phase Initiative’s goal is to raise about $170,000.

Collin Barnes, who also teaches eighth grade history at Berg Middle School, said the nonprofit is purchasing about five acres of land and building three structures on the compound, which will be walled off. Money raised will also pay for the salary of the “house mom,” trainers and security.

The group wants to hold a run once a year in the April or May time frame.

“Keep your eyes open and spread the word,” Collin Barnes said. “We’re trying to make it as awesome as possible.”

For more information about The Phoenix Phase Initiative, contact the group at info@phoenixphaseinitiative.org or visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/phoenixphaseinitiative.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.