The 24 Hour Race: A Fight Against Modern Day Slavery

Tanya Deshpande

The annual 24 Hour Race is just around the corner! The event is being held from December 2nd to 3rd at Lugard Road, Victoria Peak. HKIS has been taking part in this race since it was established in 2010, and this year’s team leaders, Bailee Brown (12), Tucker Grinnan (12) and Vishal Dhileepan (12) are putting in the dedication required.

The 24 Hour Race is an endurance based relay that runs for 24 hours and has spread beyond Hong Kong to Singapore, Malaysia, and even South Korea recently. In Hong Kong this year, twenty-four schools will be participating, both local and international. According to the 24 Hour Race website, the event is a “philanthropic movement” run entirely by students with an objective to rescue people from human trafficking. “It's a lofty goal, but every single year, it becomes more realistic, because the message is being spread and we continue to fund organizations that are helping to fix the problem,” remarks Tucker Grinnan (12).

As explained by the faculty advisor, Mrs. Mulligan, this year’s race is focusing on their partnership with Exodus Road, a large organization that frees enslaved individuals through legal means with the aid of the police force and government.

According to the 24 Hour Race website, there are 35 million victims of slavery worldwide today and over a quarter of them are children. Unfortunately, only around 44,000 of these victims are helped annually since modern slavery is secretive in nature and quite difficult to expose. Thus, the 24 Hour Race “strives to advocate freedom in a world ridden with slavery”, as phrased on the official 24 Hour Race website.

Bailee Brown (12) expressed her active enthusiasm and love for the race, stating; “the 24-hour race is my favorite time of the year. It’s painful during the race, but it’s just so great. I’ve been participating ever since my freshman year and I’ve loved it all throughout high school.” Being a prominent leader, she acquired many important skills. “I learned that I have to be assertive in order to make this possible - to make teams, be organized and be straightforward with people who weren’t willing to commit. Being a leader requires a lot more dedication than I thought and experiencing it firsthand taught me that I had to be on top of things and manage my time skillfully”.

What began as just a race, has come to mean so much more for Tucker (12) as he has run the race since his freshman year. “It’s not just a race. It's fundraising, running, bonding, suffering together, for a common cause; eliminating modern-day slavery.” Being one of the co-leaders, he too learned the importance of “being vocal and letting people know what they need to do, until they do it.”

According to Mrs Mulligan, the faculty advisor for the race, “HKIS is well represented” with a balanced team of 16 girls and 16 boys. Although the three leaders have had differing views at times, they learnt to work together, discuss issues and make compromises. Through bake sales, meetings, training, reaching out to relatives and sharing an online donation platform, they are aiming to raise a total of HKD 40,000 - 80,000.

This year, the leaders are hoping to see some improvements from previous years. “Last year, our team was stuck without any provided meals for us to buy, which is frustrating because even though they aren’t necessary they are still much appreciated,” admits Tucker (12). These runners require the energy from food to be able to give their best for the race. Secondly, they would like to see a tracking system (used to track the laps run by each team) which doesn’t malfunction and cause complications.

Every year, all the team leaders from the various schools have meetings to put the event together and voice their own opinions. Despite the diversity and differing backgrounds of the students taking part in the race, it is important to remember one thing, as indicated by Mrs Mulligan. “You meet all these diverse students at the race, and it’s just lovely to see them all unite to work together towards a better world”.

For more information on the 24 Hour Race, visit https://www.24hourrace.org/ .