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Ironman runs, bikes, swims to aid exploited Surrey youth

Cloverdale paramedic Will Rogers has completed his 2011 Million Dollar Journey as part of his battle against the sexual exploitation of Surrey youth. - Colin Oswin Photo
Cloverdale paramedic Will Rogers has completed his 2011 Million Dollar Journey as part of his battle against the sexual exploitation of Surrey youth.
— image credit: Colin Oswin Photo

Cloverdale’s own Ironman ran through town late last month during his fundraising battle against sexual exploitation.

Veteran paramedic Will Rogers, 52, passed through Cloverdale on July 21 as he neared the finish line on his 1,000 km trek – this leg a 490 km run from Penticton to Victoria – in support of the Servants Anonymous Society of Surrey (SAS).  He also swam the Georgia Strait from Galliano to Tsawassen on June 27 (that’s 24 km), and biked from Victoria to Penticton over the Canada Day long weekend (another 490 km).

The run began on July 9 and wrapped up on July 23, with Rogers budgeting for roughly 32 km each day.

SAS supports women and victimized youth who are looking for a way out of the sex trade industry. The society runs safe homes, provides schooling and life skills training, and helps sexually exploited teens rebuild their lives – building up their self-esteem and offering practical life and occupational skills training.

Rogers says SAS is a great charity to support because it saves the lives of women and children and also takes them out of the social safety net.

“Exploitation like this is a huge issue in B.C., and it also creates a lot of cash flow for organized crime,” he says. “Sometimes, people are trafficked through B.C. for this very reason.”

He’s ultimately hoping to sign up 10,000 people who will commit $20 a month for 24 months, raising $5 million to provide SAS with ongoing funding. It would also allow SAS to expand – or bring the program to another community.The charity currently has 10 young women in 24-hour care, with seven others who attend school at SAS during the day

Rogers says the charity needs to build capacity to house and educate more women and girls and make sure space is available when they need it.

“It’s important to be there for them when they make that decision,” he says. And that requires “solid, sustained funding.”

After running through Surrey toward Vancouver, he passed over the Lions Gate Bridge toward the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay.

He says people will always ask if he plans to jog around the ferry deck to keep his energy going, but that’s not how it goes down.

“I sit back, have a sunshine breakfast and put my feet up,” he says.

After arriving on the Island, he ran alongside the Trans-Canada to Victoria and the finish line, completing his fourth mega-endurance challenge in support of SAS in as many years.

“I enjoy it,” he says. “It’s a fundraising challenge and a physical challenge. The fundraising challenge is sometimes harder than going out and running every day.”

Donations can be made at www.sasurrey.ca, at www.willrogers.ca, by calling 604-590-2304, by cheque to SAS at #201 7400 132 St. Surrey, B.C. V3W 4M7, or at any Bank of Montreal branch (account No. 706-8097584).

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