Akron, OH – 15 participants in the Akron Marathon competed for more than the satisfaction of completing the race.  They were “RUNNING FOR RAHAB” – an initiative to raise money for the confidential counseling of female victims rescued from the human trafficking trade in Northeast Ohio.  Over 140 individual runner sponsors combined to raise nearly $10,000 for the RAHAB Fund.

Recently, two Akron agencies, EMERGE Counseling Services and RAHAB (Reaching Above Homelessness and Brokenness) Ministries formed a strategic partnership designed to provide competent, Christ-centered counseling for broken women being rescued out of the sex-slave trade.  These “trafficked” women come to RAHAB having endured physical bondage, burns, and beatings.  Most of the rescued women who find their way to the RAHAB Safe house remain in grave danger as they continue to be hunted by these traffickers.  Part of their redemption and healing is long-term counseling from EMERGE’s skilled and compassionate clinicians.

Dr. Don Lichi, licensed psychologist and vice president of EMERGE, completed his 12th full marathon – his first since being diagnosed with cancer in November 2011 – in support of the RAHAB Fund at EMERGE.  Lichi, 64, was training for the Akron Marathon when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow that caused his spine to collapse on his sciatic nerve.  After more than 20 treatments, a stem cell transplant, and indefinite chemotherapy, Lichi returned to compete in his final marathon competition.

“This is the capstone and I will be running with a real heart of gratitude,” said Lichi in the days leading up to the race.  “I am thankful to God, my family – especially my wife, Marcie – my friends and the community for all of their support and a great medical staff.  I wouldn’t be here without them.  This is also an opportunity to give back by raising some money for a great organization – RAHAB.”

EMERGE President and CEO John M. Palmer expressed how fitting it was for Dr. Lichi to be part of a team raising money to encourage women working to overcome traumatic adversity find help, hope and healing in spite of their circumstances.  Palmer shares, “He (Lichi) has persevered with joy and relied on God’s grace in spite of the challenges he has faced.  He is a great example and a great inspiration to others – to run, to persevere through difficulties.”

Others inspired to join Lichi as runners were fellow EMERGE team members Jessica Smith and Todd Veppert along with community members Melissa Bales, Jamie Blair, Erin Bossler, Susan Burnoski, Elizabeth Comrie, Bea Jewart, Sarah Klingler, Danae Labocki, Brenda Liptak, Marvin Sharpless, Kathrine Titus, and Joann Zarkovacki.

To support the RAHAB Fund at EMERGE with a tax-deductible donation or by ordering a special RUNNING FOR RAHAB t-shirt for $10, visit www.emerge.org/running-for-rahab or contact the EMERGE development office at 330-968-0379.