DRAPER, Utah (ABC 4 News) – Nancy Knudson considers herself one of the lucky ones. At just 17-years-old she was able to escape the grip of the Fundamentalist Mormon Church. The FLDS is separate sect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
"There we were told everything to do,” explained Knudson. “We're told how to dress how to live, how to clean our houses even."
She left everything she knew and risked never being able to return home to Colorado City or ever have a relationship with her family again.
"My family was a good family. I still love them,” said Knudson.
But she wanted a life of her own; one that didn't include being married off to an older man. So with the help of Tonia Tewell and her organization Holding Out HELP she did what two of her other sisters have done and left.
Tewell explained, "Really, it's word of mouth. Once you help one person it just spreads like wildfire that there are people out there who will love and can care for them."
With the help of their volunteers and fundraisers like their second annual 5 k run taking place next Saturday Holding Out HELP is able to provide those who leave polygamous families with basic needs like food, shelter and education.
"Just about everything that a refugee coming form another country will need,” explained Tewell.
Kristen Gower is one of the group's volunteers. She's taken in a number of young adults, including Knudson, and for the last two years has raised them like her own.
Gower said, "I think part of my job in life is to help other people so they can do on and help other people you know like the trickle down effect."
It's that unconditional love that has helped Knudson and hundreds of other polygamist children escape their former lives and has allowed them to start planning for their future.
Knudson said, "I feel happier here because I know I can make something out of my life. I can become something which there you can become something, but it's a mother."
Holding Out HELP is holding their 2nd annual 5 K run Saturday, September 22nd at Draper Park. The race starts at 9 am. For more information log on to http://holdingouthelp.org/5k/