Woman to raise awareness of human trafficking with feat of endurance

A Lexington woman is about to do something that has probably never been attempted in this area.

She plans to endure 27 straight hours of swimming, biking, and running.

Paula Heron is doing this to bring awareness of human trafficking.

"I think it's appalling, and I think people just don't know about it," Heron said.

Human trafficking is an estimated $32 billion industry.

"Human trafficking is selling a person for either forced labor, or into the sex industry, and another human being making money off of that," Heron said.

The images of mostly women and children being sold pushed Heron, an Ironman triathlete, to use the sport she loves to shine a light on human trafficking.

Heron will endure 27 straight hours of swimming, biking, and running, for the 27 million people bought and sold worldwide.

"Seventeen and a half thousand women, or slaves, cross these borders every year, into the United States," Heron said. "It's not just a Cambodia problem, an Asian problem."

Heron, who's also a University of Kentucky researcher, will be dressed in orange from head to toe. Orange symbolizes freedom, and she calls her effort Tri4Freedom.

Heron plans to start swimming when the sun comes up on Saturday, June 18, at the Spindletop Hall pool.

After two and a half hours in the pool, Heron will ride her bike 13 hours on the Legacy Trail, until the sun starts to go down.

She'll then run nine and a half hours through the night at Spindletop, finishing at nine Sunday morning.

It's an exhausting effort aimed at publicizing human trafficking.

"Let people of Lexington know this is going on," Heron said. "This is going on in our own backyard, and there are organizations locally, and within the U.S., that are every day fighting this issue."

Heron is inviting the public to join her on the last mile of her run, and celebrate her finish at 9 a.m. Sunday, June 19, at Spindletop Hall.

Alltech is providing free coffee, and there will also be free doughnuts, music, and information on local efforts to stop human trafficking.

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