Woodland group running for a revolution

BEACON FALLS — A Cambodian woman who survived being sold into sexual slavery at a young age will speak this weekend at a race that will raise money to benefit a charity that fights to end human trafficking.

Somaly Mam, co-founder of the Somaly Mam Foundation, is coming to Woodland Regional High School Saturday to speak to the community and sign her book, “The Road of Lost Innocence.”

Mam will be part of the second annual Run for a Revolution, a 5k run and 2-mile walk, sponsored by Woodland for Women Worldwide, a school club that wants to empower people to fight sexual slavery.

The run will start at 10 a.m., with the book discussion beginning at noon. Other activities include art projects for children, an award ceremony and music by JHat.

Students and staff have read Mam’s book, which is about her being sold into sex slavery at age 3 and being raped daily, club members said. She escaped, and now fights for the rights of oppressed women. Mam has been honored as one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009.

“I just want to meet her,” said Chloe Flanagan, 18, a Woodland senior. “I feel like this group has been such an impact on my life. I am touched by her story.”

So much so, she said, that she wants to be a lawyer. She will attend the University of New Hampshire to study psychology with a possible minor in political science.

The school club has a core group of 20 students and 20 faculty with five community members, said Lisa Olivere and Deb Flaherty, co-founders of the club.

About 500 participants are expected for this year’s race, with about 50 volunteers, Olivere said. Last year’s race drew about 400 and raised $15,000, she said. Flaherty said they hope to raise $30,000 this year.

The money will go to the Somaly Mam Foundation, the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) and the club’s scholarship fund.

Actress and activist AnnaLynne McCord will participate in the run a second time. McCord, a past recipient of the club’s Heroine Award, will present this year’s award to Mam.

Senior Amanda Gagne, 17, said the club and Mam’s story also have affected her life. She will attend Seton Hall University in New Jersey to study international relations and diplomacy.

Club alums will return Saturday for support, Olivere said.