The third annual Courage Worldwide Triathlon will be held Saturday, Aug. 26, starting at 10 a.m., at Plumas Pines Resort in Canyon Dam to benefit Courage Worldwide, parent organization of Courage House, a nonprofit with headquarters in Sacramento that helps rescue abused children who have been sexually exploited.
The race encompasses a 2.8-mile run, followed by a 7.1-mile bike ride and ending with a 4.1-mile leg in a kayak along the west shore of Lake Almanor. One team member runs, the second person bikes and a third team member kayaks or paddleboards the remainder of the course.
Event Coordinator Joanne Vice said the idea for a triathlon originally began with a group of law enforcement officers trying to find ways to raise money for a great cause that is now a yearly event in Plumas County.
Vice said the organization hopes the annual race results in unifying the community behind a vital need to protect exploited children. She noted that the child sex trade is a $9.5 billion industry in the United States alone, with younger and younger children being exploited every day.
When law enforcement rescues these girls, they have no place to go, she explained, and they sometimes end up back on the street again being sold for sex.
Courage Worldwide’s mission is to build homes dedicated to those children who need a safe environment away from sexual predators, she said. Only one Courage House has been built so far on a 53-acre ranch in the Sacramento area at an undisclosed location, but it has a total of just six beds. Ultimately, the organization wants to build a Courage Worldwide house in every city that needs one so that rescued children will have a safe place to call home.
Dawn Hershberger is the Courage Ambassador for Courage Worldwide. She said she’s been traveling throughout California getting the word out and recruiting those who want to share their mission of expanding safe homes for vulnerable girls.
“We’re working to raise awareness of the sex trafficking trade here in America,” Hershberger said. “It isn’t something that’s just happening in faraway places.”
Hershberger lamented that they’ve had to turn away many girls here in California because there’s nowhere to place them, adding that resources for these children are abysmally underfunded, making it a challenge to raise more resources to construct additional safe houses.
The girls have all been traumatized, “so our program includes counseling services and home school — and that also costs money. … We also have horses that they can ride which is very therapeutic.”
Vice asks that not only individuals in the community join in on the aquatic event, but anyone who is a member of law enforcement or a public service agency register as well as part of the organization’s law enforcement challenge.
“We’re calling it a law enforcement challenge because we’re encouraging all law enforcement agencies throughout the region to unite and pull together with the community to help us address the need for more homes where abused children can heal and be safe from abusive adults,” Vice explained.
Individuals and businesses are also asked to provide sponsorships to support the cause.
The event emphasizes fun over competition, said Vice, noting that the triathlon is not necessarily challenging for most people who choose to participate in the event; the beautiful Almanor Recreation Trail is completely paved for the run and bike-riding portion of the race, without any significant hills to climb for example.
“And then there’s the kayak portion where you’re rowing along the shoreline and marveling at magnificent Mt. Lassen,” Vice added. Participants are encouraged to dress in spirited outfits or fun costumes if they like.
For those who don’t feel they can participate in the triathlon, Vice said they want people to know they can still go to their registration page and click on the option to offer sponsorships.
Participants pay a registration fee of $105 per person or $75 per person as part of a three-member team.
Vice said prizes given out include a traveling trophy for the top law enforcement team, plus awards for top solo and team participants, as well as prizes for each age category.
Sponsors of the event include the California Correctional Supervisors Organization, The Bizz Running Co., Hershberger Livestock, Plumas Bank and High Sierra Fire.
“We’re especially grateful to Glen Geer and Brooke and Todd Geer, owners of Plumas Pines Resort for stepping up and lending their support. They’re the reason why we’re here in Plumas County.”
She also said the organization is thankful for its partnership with the California Highway Patrol and the U.S. Forest Service, Almanor District.
Vice also wanted to thank her friend CHP Sergeant Linda Powell, who is timing the triathlon.
Registration, a link for sponsorships and a map of the route can be found at courageworldwide.org/couragerun/triathlon. Volunteers also need to register.
Participants can visit the organizers’ Facebook page (with a link to register): Courage Triathlon, Lake Almanor.
Visit the Courage Worldwide website at: courageworldwide.org to view videos and additional information on the organization.