Thoeum Thaiy came across World Concern’s Free Them 5k while looking for his next race. A friend had encouraged him to start running, and he’d completed his first 5k in March of 2012. He knew that registering for another event would keep him hitting the pavement. That’s when he heard about the Free Them 5k.
“The cause really resonated with me,” he said.
Thoeum was born in Cambodia, and his family immigrated to Thailand in 1979. They lived in refugee camps for several years when Thoeum was very young. He has little recollection of that period in his life, but his older siblings often talk about the experience.
“It struck a chord with me—the mission—with my background (as a refugee). It seemed like a perfect fit,” he said.
Thoeum set what he thought was a pretty aggressive fundraising goal: $1,000. He wrote his own story on his fundraising page, then encouraged friends and family to help him protect vulnerable kids and families in places like Cambodia and Thailand who are at risk of human trafficking.
He posted the link to his fundraising page on Facebook and sent several emails to coworkers and other contacts. Right away he raised about $700.
“It was surprising and amazing how many people gave,” he said. Thoeum was most surprised by generous coworkers—some he hadn’t had much contact with recently—who gave about $200.
Although his initial goal seemed high, “as it inched closer, it was exciting to see the number tick up,” he said.
An employee of Merrill Lynch, Thoeum took advantage of his company’s matching gift program, which added another $700, and enabled him to surpass his goal.
Thoeum ended up raising $1,900 for the 2012 Free Them 5k, making him the top fundraiser last year.
“It doesn’t take a lot of effort or time to do a Facebook post,” he said. “Folks are willing and want to help. All it takes is that initial step of asking.”
Whether you sign up today, or you’ve already registered, be encouraged by the success of Theoum and others and give your fundraising page a push. Your goal may be closer than you think!