Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime of the 21st century. Selling girls and women into slavery generates $32 billion per year - half of which comes from western nations like the United States. Nineteen year old Austin Knight has decided to do something about it.

During his freshman year of high school, Austin watched a documentary on the Eastern European slave trade detailing the ongoing trafficking of females as young as five years old from distressed European nations. Perplexed by this reality, he channeled his frustrations into a website manifesto.

Austin’s interest grew - and so did Slavery Is Real. The focus of his website is simple: to raise awareness and take action against human trafficking. From speeches and campus events to athletic competitions and fundraisers - this fast growing University of Kentucky based non-profit has established a formidable presence such that students can’t help but stop, learn, and take action.

This month taking action means participating in the Strides for Freedom campaign. Twelve dedicated runners are enduring a 200 mile, 30 hour long journey through the state of Kentucky to raise awareness and funds for Slavery Is Real.

Awareness is the most critical component for Slavery Is Real. You don’t have to travel to Eastern Europe or the third world to encounter slavery. The United States is one of the top buyers of slaves. Within five years, it is estimated that human trafficking will surpass the drug trade and become the largest organized crime entity in the world.

To Austin, however, these numbers merely cloud the faces.

Imagine staring into the eyes of 27 million enslaved human beings and seeing what their lives have been like. Imagine their faces. That's what Slavery Is Real fights for - the people; not the statistics. That's our greater purpose.

Today Slavery Is Real serves their Lexington, Kentucky community. However their reach expands everyday. For Austin, awareness drives action, and action drives change. Slavery is Real is a catalyst that can alter human trafficking forever.