NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans quarterback Jake Locker on Wednesday stood with students who participated in a global movement to end modern slavery.
Locker, his wife and young daughter, joined Belmont and Vanderbilt students for a local effort that was part of the national Stand for Freedom campaign. The student-led, 24-hour endeavor was organized to raise awareness about an estimated 29.8 million people who are enslaved and support non-profit International Justice Mission's commitment to ending slavery.
"Being involved with IJM opened our eyes to how many people still struggle in slavery and oppression," Locker said at Belmont's campus. "Slavery is something you read about in the history books or learn about in school and you think it is no more. Unfortunately that is not the case. There are more slaves in the world today than ever before. I'm so excited to be standing behind a cause like this because it is so important. "
Locker and his wife Lauren are serving as honorary chairs this year for IJM's annual benefit dinner in Nashville, similar to how former Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck and his wife Sarah did in 2012.
Nearly a thousand students from universities across the U.S. and globally have already committed to participate in Stand for Freedom. Each event has a fundraising goal to help IJM's most urgent efforts to end enslavement of children. IJM has helped more than 10,500 victims of violence and injustice in the past five years. The events also have goals of obtaining signatures to petition Congress to pass the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act, which would elevate the Trafficking in Persons Office to the status of a bureau and give leaders within the State Department more authority to elevate the issue of slavery.
In 2013, 500 schools and communities hosted Stand for Freedom events across 36 states and four countries. The effort raised more than $130,000 and collected more than 37,000 signatures to a petition that asks President Barrack Obama to make ending slavery a priority.
"For the girl trapped in a brothel, the young man stuck in forced labor, the family enslaved, they are all seeking hope and someone to give them a voice to speak up through the brutality they endure," said Greg Darley, IJM's director of college mobilization. "For 24 hours, students everywhere from Hong Kong to Texas are stepping into the unseen footprints of the enslaved and making known the reality that slavery still exists and needs to end."
Visit ijm.org/stand or search #Stand4Freedom for more information on IJM's Stand for Freedom.
About International Justice Mission
International Justice Mission is a global organization that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems. The largest non-profit organization of its kind, IJM combats slavery, sex trafficking, property grabbing, police abuse of power and sexual violence, working in nearly 20 communities throughout South and Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America.