Walking the Extra Mile for Human Rights
Founder and chairman of the St. Petersburg, Florida, Human Rights Walkathon, Linda Drazkowski believes a better world is in our own hands.
In 2007, Linda Drazkowski was shocked.
“Like so many others, I believed slavery ended a century ago,” she says.
Then she discovered that human trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world today, second only to the drug and arms trades. She was outraged to learn that children as young as 12 or 13 are often the victims.
“An estimated 27 million people are enslaved throughout the world, with 2.5 million located right here in the United States,” says Drazkowski. “And each year, 600,000 to 800,000 more people are trafficked internationally."
Drazkowski decided to do something about it. She launched Human Rights Group Inc. to make this issue broadly known through educational outreach. In 2007, the group held the first Human Rights Walkathon, later co-sponsored by the City of St. Petersburg, Florida, and carried out annually in coordination with the Florida Coalition against Human Trafficking (FCAHT).
“Most of the human trafficking victims freed in the U.S. are located through tips from private individuals. If more people were aware of the issue, we could make an enormous difference,” says Drazkowski.
Born in the Bronx and raised in New York and Connecticut, Drazkowski went to college in Hawaii, and settled in Honolulu after graduating. It was there that she learned about Scientology.
“A friend and I caught a taxi driven by a really nice guy and we all became good friends,” she says. “We got to talking and it turned out he was a Scientologist. The way he described the religion fascinated us, so we asked him to drive us to the Scientology Mission in Honolulu to find out more.”
Drazkowski enrolled on courses at the Honolulu Mission and has continued with Scientology studies and spiritual counseling ever since. She moved to Clearwater, Florida, the spiritual headquarters of the Scientology religion, nearly two decades ago, where she and husband Michael have raised their son, 14, and daughter, 11.
“This is our world,” she says. “It can be filled with respect and tolerance. That’s the kind of world I want for my children and their children. It is up to us.”