Hostage-themed run infuriates military families

Military families say run is disrespectful

UPDATE: According to the event's website, the charity is no longer associated with this event. Organizers say the run is no longer going raise funds for any charity. 11Alive has reached out repeatedly to the organizers for an interview. Watch Kaitlyn Ross's follow-up story tonight on 11Alive on 11:00.

ORIGINAL STORY: 

HAMPTON, Ga. -- A local charity run is infuriating military families in metro Atlanta.

Organizers of the so-called "Hostage Run" say the profits from the event will be donated to a military charity, but the wives of deployed soldiers say the entire premise is disrespectful.

The run basically mimics a kidnapping with the runners having black bags over their heads and their hands zip-tied behind their backs.

11Alive's Kaitlyn Ross spoke with military families who said they're making fun of a horrifying reality for some of America's service members.

“This is a fear of all military wives, husbands, children -  of all military mothers,” said Renea Carl.

Carl was horrified when she found out about the hostage run.

“I was driving down the road and I saw these signs and I got sick,” said Carl.

Her husband served in the U.S. Army for 21 years and her son-in-law is currently deployed. She said there's nothing funny about prisoners of war.

“When I saw this I just wanted to know what kind of a sick and twisted individual would put this together," she said. "It makes no sense. It shows no support for our military.”

Carl and Katherine Anders have tried to talk to the event organizers for the past month to explain why they're so upset about it.

“Trying to make it something fun is not how we should be communicating with society that this is acceptable," Anders said. "It's not acceptable.”

Anders has young kids and said when her husband is deployed. She added that she's constantly holding her breath.

“To be honest, when you're at home and you don't hear from them for days, you just don't know," Anders said. "You don't know if they're OK, you don't know what's going on and it's hard to explain to your children why they haven't heard from their dad in a couple days.”

Event organizers initially told 11Alive they would provide a statement about the controversy but then stopped responding.

On their website they wrote the idea for the run came from the debate around water boarding but added that "this event has nothing to do with the out of control and heartbreaking events going on around the world."

Anders said that's not good enough.

“It's not fun, it's not lighthearted and it's a disgrace to everyone who has lost and sacrificed their lives," she said.

Anders has since started an online petition to have the Hostage Run canceled.

On their website, the organizers had said they were partnering with the charity Hugs for Heroes which they said sends care packages to deployed service members. By Thursday, the Hostage Run's website stated that the charity was no longer associated with the run. The website stated:

"Due to our former charity partner, Hero Hugs (which was started by an amazing young and hard working girl that did amazing work over the years,) received never ending and harassing hate mail from one or two individuals in particular that didn’t like this run’s theme, we have decided to produce this event with no charity affiliation and only to raise awareness of human trafficking. All current donations will be refunded to participants."

The founder of the charity did not return 11Alive's calls for comment and the charity has not been financially active since 2012.

11Alive's Kaitlyn Ross will have a follow-up story Thursday night at 11 on 11Alive News.

Stay updated on this and other stories by downloading the FREE 11Alive News app now in the iTunes store or on Google Play.

(© 2017 WXIA)


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