While most college students were enjoying their last couple of weeks before heading back to colleges all across the country, VCU field hockey freshman Kendell Combs was one of over 42,000 students aged 18-25 that attended the annual Passion Conference, held in Atlanta, Georgia last week.

Combs and seven of her friends from her native, Suffolk, Va. drove eight hours to Atlanta for the conference. Going into the conference they knew the theme of this year's conference was freedom, but they didn't know the challenge that would be issued to them on the first day.

At the Georgia Dome the students were told about an issue that is taking place all over the world, human trafficking, which is considered modern day slavery.

"Freedom is one of the many things we take for granted on a daily basis," Combs said. "Knowing there are over 27 million people in slavery at this very second really makes you reevaluate things. It makes you realize that it's simply not fair that these people are not free like I am. We were just trying to play a little part in helping put an end to it."
Staggering numbers were flashed up on the big screen: somewhere between 10-30 million slaves worldwide, while many people may believe that human trafficking is just a problem in other countries, the United States has somewhere between 14,500-17,500 slaves within its borders.

After hearing the numbers, the 42,000+ students at the conference were challenged to raise one million dollars. The money was set to go to six organizations (which all dealt with ending human trafficking) that Passion had partnered with prior to the conference.

"My first thought to myself was, how in the world were broke college kids like us going to scrounge up one million dollars," Combs said.  

But to Combs surprise, not only did the members of the conference meet the challenge, they exceeded the goal.

"This is the only place I have seen people my age stand in line for hours to give their money," Combs said. "It is an indescribable sensation to be a part of the amazing things that this generation is doing. It's not me, it's us."

On the final day of the conference, everyone was told the final amount of money that was raised over the previous week, $3,066,670. Not too shabby for a bunch of broke college kids just trying to make a difference.

Written by Andrew Phillips, VCU Athletic Communications Student Assistant