Laughter helps raise money for local human trafficking group - Tucson News Now

Laughter helps raise money for local human trafficking group

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

More than 800 people showed up at the Victory Worship Center on Friday night, to help raise money for victims of sex trafficking.

A comedy group called "Free to Laugh, Laugh to Free" based out of Phoenix, have dedicated themselves to the cause.  The group has raised more than $300,000 for help victims of sex trafficking throughout Arizona.  For the first time, they brought their act to Tucson.

Tickets were $20 a piece, and laughter filled the room.   Sex trafficking may sound like nothing to laugh about, the group's founder Brad Pellish explained the reason behind their name.

"Free to laugh, it's for the counselors and therapists who deal with this heavy topic every single day.  We want them to know, it's okay to take a break, and they need to laugh too."

As for "laugh to free",  Pellish explained 100% of all the money raised through their shows went to sex advocacy groups, that work to help free underage human trafficking victims from a life of sexual slavery.

"This is a bigger problem than people realize," said Pellish.

All of the money raised at the Victory Worship Center would be given to the local advocacy group Sold No More.  The organization helped raise awareness about sex trafficking, and provided support and counseling to victims.

One of the advocates working with the group was human trafficking survivor Elizabeth Kimbel. 

"I was 14 when I met my first pimp", said Kimbel.  She lived in Washington, DC at the time.

"He approached me.  I was in a bad place in my life."

Kimbel said she was in the "trade" for nine months, then a police officer rescued her, by arresting her.

"I spent my days and nights in a lot of hotel rooms, a lot of time on the streets, a lot of time putting up ads online," said Kimbel.

She said she didn't make any money, all of it went to her pimp.

"The girls get nothing.  They just get beat up, raped, tortured over and over and over again. Until there's very little left of them," said Kimbel.

"The reality is the girls in the Asian spas, and the reality is also the girls from your own block, your nice neighborhood, the foster care system," added Kimbel.

Now Kimbel is here to offer hope.  The face of life after "the life." 

The comedy show helped raise more than $17,000 for Sold No More.  Advocates said the lack of beds in Arizona was a big concern.  The victims they rescued needed a place to stay.  Their goal was to try and get at least four emergency beds in Tucson by next year.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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