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Race to fight human trafficking honors co-founding teen

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    From left, Kurtie Tolley, his mother, Alyce Tolley, and Nate Vermote at the first Run to Freedom race in September 2015.

    PHOTO PROVIDED

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Brunswick graduates Nate Vermote and Kurtie Tolley were active last year in bringing awareness to human trafficking, a global issue, through the Run to Freedom 5K/Walk.

This year’s race, presented by the Medina County Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Children’s Center of Medina County, is named to honor Vermote, who died unexpectedly days after the first event in September 2015.

The Nate Vermote Run to Freedom will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Hinckley Reservation in Hinckley Township — at the spillway parking area near Bellus Road.

Tolley said Vermote “always wanted to be remembered and wanted his place in history by doing something good. This was one of the best ways I could personally keep his memory alive.”

The race not only brings together runners and walkers of all ages, it also raises funds for anti-trafficking programs.

“Human trafficking is happening in our communities and in the state of Ohio,” said Rhonda Wurgler, executive director of the Children’s Center of Medina County. “We are very committed to trying to end human trafficking.”

Vermote and Tolley, who enjoyed running together, presented the 5K/walk idea to the coalition last fall.

“The main reason was to show people that if two 18-year-old males can notice a crime that horrific and can step up and do something about it, then anyone can,” Tolley said. “It doesn’t matter whether you hold a badge or you’re 40 years old or a billionaire or homeless, anyone can do their part to make a difference.”

Wurgler said Vermote’s family members will speak Saturday. State Sen. Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, is scheduled to attend.

On-site registration and check-in will be 8 to 8:45 a.m. with pre-race instructions at 8:45 a.m. Entry fee is $20, which includes a free T-shirt to the first 200 paid registrations.

Wurgler said last year’s event raised about $800 for the coalition.

For more information or to register, visit www.MedinaCountyChildrensCenter.org.

Friendship

Tolley and Vermote, both 2015 Brunswick High School and Medina County Career Center graduates, were friends since the fourth grade. At the career center, Tolley graduated from the graphic arts program and Vermote from the power equipment program.

Tolley said he and Vermote participated in Boy Scouts when they were younger and exercised almost every day together to train for their future careers. Tolley wanted to pursue a career in criminal justice and Vermote wanted to join the military.

After Vermote’s death, Tolley decided he would serve in the Army to honor his friend. Tolley, 20, is stationed in Washington, D.C.

Tolley said Vermote was his “best friend.”

“I haven’t met another person with the same heart and drive as he did,” Tolley said. “All he wanted to do was leave the world better than he found it.”

Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or hheironimus@medina-gazette.com.



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