Paul Whelan has been a hostage in Russia for 1,752 days. On the 1,751st, he showed his continued resilience by participating in the worldwide 2023 James W. Foley Freedom Run. We let Paul know that we would once again be fielding a team in his name and he coordinated his own effort. Paul was able to walk a mile within the confines of both the IK-17 labor camp and the prison's regulations to show he remains unbeaten.
Our family participated in the walk from wherever we were. I walked in San Diego and our parents walked in Manchester, Michigan. Here is some local coverage:
from the village paper prior to the walk. Our mum and dad were joined by some longtime friends as they walked about 2 miles through the village. [Photos:https://photos.app.goo.gl/BQJAxJU1o426bd559 ] Our parents were cheered up by encounters with people in the village and store owners who asked for one of the signs the team was carrying, to put in their shop windows.
Rep. Debbie Dingell had asked to participate but for reasons beyond her control—including the vacant Speakership in the House—she was unable to attend. But as our mum said, both about the participants and those who couldn't be there, it's the thought that counts. Our parents will have this memory, of their friends surrounding and supporting them, as the next year of Paul's wrongful detention plays out. It means a lot to a family and supporters to be able to *do something* when it seems that there is nothing to be done. I expect Paul would agree.
When someone is taken hostage, a family learns the limits to what they can do to bring their family member home and out of harm's way. We remain grateful to organizations like the Foley Foundation and Hostage US, both of whom support and advocate for families like ours, and our loved ones.