Comedians to perform, fight sex trafficking at Free To Laugh eventWritten by Matt Liasse | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Last year, The Daughter Project sponsored an event where 800 people learned about sex trafficking. This year, organizers are aiming for more.
“If we sell out this year, the auditorium that UT is giving us to use holds 2,000 people, we could potentially have 2,000 people that will come out and hear about trafficking,” said The Daughter Project Director Jeff Wilbarger.
Free To Laugh, a family-friendly comedy event, will be at UT’s Nitschke Auditorium at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Oct. 19. It aims to raise funds and awareness about sex trafficking on a local level.
This is part of a national concert tour that started four years ago, Wilbarger said, which donates proceeds to centers that help stop trafficking. All funds for the local show will benefit The Daughter Project.
Three comedians will perform at the event: Carlos Oscar, Leland Klassen and Bob Stromberg. Wilbarger said the comedians are appearing at a lower rate than they would regularly charge.
“[The original creator] only wanted comedians that were willing to recognize the value of the fundraiser and were willing to make a sacrifice themselves,” Wilbarger said. “They could be performing somewhere else on a Saturday night and making more money than they will with us.”
Local FBI agent Jake Hardie and Toledo Police Detective Pete Swartz will be recognized at the event for their anti-trafficking and rescue work.
“What they do is they go out and they identify traffickers, arrest traffickers and rescue survivors,” Wilbarger said. “It gives them a chance, these people that have been working so hard every day of their lives trying to help trafficking survivors, to recognize them for what they do.”
Wilbarger said it is important to bring attention to sex trafficking, letting people know that it is happening. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at thedaughterproject.org and LifeWay Family Christian Stores. The Daughter Project is encouraging local organizations to purchase tickets in a batch of 20 or so and give them to people who cannot otherwise afford them.
Wilbarger said founding The Daughter Project is his way of helping the cause.
“I’m not able to be a house mom; I can’t actually live in the home and actually help the girls directly, so I’m out here on the other end,” he said. “I’ve probably talked to 100 different churches. I’m big on the awareness side of things.”
The Daughter Project is the only licensed group for sex trafficking survivors in the state of Ohio, operated by only seven employees.