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Pennsylvania native nearing end of his cross-country run to fight human trafficking

Pennsylvania native running to raise money and awareness for human trafficking
Pennsylvania native running to raise money and awareness for human trafficking 02:26

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When people hit the pavement for the Pittsburgh marathon on Sunday, one man will run through the Steel City as he's nearing the finish line for his own marathon.

Bensalem, Pennsylvania, native and U.S. Capitol Police Officer Andrew Linder said he's going to be the first person to ever run across the country with a weighted vest on. But it's what he's running for that matters most.

Linder is on a 3,100-mile run while wearing a 15-pound weighted vest. He is chasing justice for human trafficking victims and survivors.

"I could wear a 1,000-pound weighted vest and it wouldn't equal what the victims have to go through on a daily basis. But this just resembles the weight that they constantly have to carry every single day," Linder said.

His cross-country marathon started at the Santa Monica Pier in California on March 1, and he'll reach the finish line in Central Park in New York on May 18.

While running through small towns and big cities, he's shining a light on human trafficking, which he said is a growing problem, especially on the internet.

"This happens in every single zip code in America and that's what I really want to bring light to. That everyone can be safer, and we all can bring more awareness to this problem," he said. 

"And with AI growing and evolving, it's tough when you're talking to someone online, like most people do nowadays, and it's hard to tell if that person is actually that person."

Linder runs roughly 40 miles a day, and he only has 400 miles to go. He's got several friends supporting him along the way, making sure he's fueled and fed every four miles.

He expects to pass through Pittsburgh during the Dicks Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday.

"I have a couple of friends running it. I might have to get a couple of miles running through the town," Linder said.

The "Pier to Park" trek has taken him through snowstorms, desert heat, humidity, and more.

"This might suck for me right now, but at the end of the day, I get to go take a hot shower and lay in bed. The people I'm doing this for don't get that opportunity and that's what keeps me out here no matter what the conditions are," he said in a video while running in windy, snowy conditions.

Linder is going the distance for the non-profit organization Sisters Rising Worldwide. He said 90 percent of every dollar will go to victims and survivors. So far, he's raised over $76,000, with a goal of raising $250,000.

"Let's keep doing this thing, let's keep raising money for an amazing cause and doing the thing. Make somebody smile people," he said while running in a video.

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