By Sean V. Lehosit
Dozens of residents showed up to a fitness boot camp earlier this month at the Victory Fitness in the Great Western Shopping Center, but their motivations went beyond getting in shape.
They helped raise money to battle human trafficking and assist an orphanage in Haiti.
Seven years ago a handful of trainers thought up the idea of an outdoor health event, which could raise funds for charities they held dear, according to trainer Kim Osborne.
“Our goal with this program is to do what we love and are passionate about, while reading out and sharing fitness and fun with the community while raising money for those less fortunate,” Osborne said.
Gym staff began preparation for the event at 6 a.m. and offered a number of morning classes, including Zumba, yoga, cardio and boot camp exercises led by Mike Francios, who won the Arnold Classic in 1995.
They also held silent auctions to help raise money for two charities, which received 100 percent of the proceeds – Rehab’s Hideaway and Destiny Village Orphanage.
“Before being taken in, the children come from deplorable conditions. They often suffer from malnutrition, some have little or no clothes at all and medicines are not available to many Haitian people. There are thousands of people still living in dilapidated tents,” Osborne said.
Destiny Village provides schooling for children and educates them in a way to help them assist others in their country as adults, according to Osborne. The orphanage is also supported by Potters House Church on the Westside.
“One orphan who was taken in a few years ago named Rose and she told me that she ate dirt sometimes because she was so hungry before she came to Destiny Village,” she said.
The other charity to receive money, Rehab’s Hideaway, is purposed to give refuge to women and children off the street and out of human trafficking. The organization purchased a facility on the Westside to help local women recover from their experiences, according to survivor and founder Marlene Carson.
“Unfortunately, human trafficking is growing on the Westside. This is truly modern day slavery. Thousands of young adults and teens are stuck in lifestyles that are self destructive and they have no idea how to get out and are paralyzed by fear of the pimps and people running these organizations,” Osborne said.
Victory Fitness staff said they invite the public to help continue their efforts during their 8th Annual Fitness on a Mission. Details will be announced within the next year, according to Osborne.