SALT LAKE CITY — When Tommy Green of Salt Lake City got an email from a French teenager back in 2015, at first, he thought it was a scam.
"I got an email from this 15-and-a-half-year-old kid that said 'I’m in trouble,'" he said.
His wife convinced him to respond to the girl and notify police.
"She was taken out of her home and then she was actually kidnapped by a family member and sold to a brothel in Europe," Green said.
Over the next several months, Green and his wife, Krissi, anxiously exchanged emails and even tried to adopt her at one point.
"Unfortunately, because of the extent of the abuse she went through she got super-duper sick and passed away. Before she died, she said, 'Tommy, you have to keep sharing because there's many more like me,'" Green said.
For months afterwards, Green wracked his brain, trying to find the right way to keep his promise.
"How could I earn the right to tell the story of a survivor that had gone through so much?" he explained. "So, I decided I would do a really hard thing so that I could tell her story."
The hard thing he settled on was running across the state of Utah from the top down. He started at the Idaho border, running to St. George and the Arizona line. He ran 435.8 miles in 17 days, hoping to raise awareness and money to help fund local rescue centers for trafficking victims.
"What I'd like people to know is that it's happening in Utah. It's happening in high schools. It's happening all over the country," Green said.
Even though his journey was painful at times, his pain will never compare to the young girl who reached out for help.
"Not being able to walk is different than where we found this young girl. She wasn't able to walk for a totally different reason," Green said.
An experience facilitated through the internet made him realize the horror of this abuse.
"We were just connected through the internet, through YouTube and this thing got real in a very unreal way. She was precious to us and it was traumatic," Green said.
So far, Green has raised just over $5,000 for the cause, but he's hoping to raise at least $100,000.
Learn more and donate here.