I can’t explain to you how grateful I am to have this opportunity, it has opened my eyes to what taking action looks like. I have learned that being “a person of action” isn’t a personality trait. It’s a choice. All I had to do was choose to turn in that application, and by doing that I am able to fight for the well-being of so many children, so that they may feel loved
If you talked to me at all this past summer, you heard about the 11 girls I was meticulously stalking who were riding their bikes down the west coast to fight sex trafficking. Although I knew none of them, I found a way to work Pedal into every-other conversation and give day-by-day, often hour-by-hour, updates on the girls and what they were up to that day.
This slight obsession of the girls behind Pedal combined with the undeniable pull on my heart to know more about sex trafficking led me to where I am now.
My name is Grace Hodo, and I am fighting for justice.
Before becoming interested in Pedal the Pacific, I knew generally nothing about sex trafficking. I had heard about this crime before, but the issue felt so far away from my safe circle. The truth is, it is all around us. It is in our communities, on our highways and in our cities. I am constantly learning about minor sex trafficking, and the more I learn, the harder it is for me to turn away. Reading and understanding sex trafficking on deeper levels is terrifying. It hurts to think about. And it should. Women, men, girls and boys are being stripped of their innocence and dignity every single day. Sex trafficking is real. It is happening, and it is moving quickly.
When it comes down to it, we are the same. The only difference between me, and a survivor of human trafficking is the trafficking itself. That is why I ride. I ride because the girls at The Refuge, and the ones to come, are someone’s daughter. Someone’s sister. Someone’s future mother. These girls are the same as you and I. I ride because I can’t sit and ignore that sex trafficking actually exists and is growing day by day.
I am (somehow by the grace of God) going to bike 1,700 miles this summer. I am scared and nervous and have absolutely no idea how I will make it to San Diego. But, if the simple act of moving my legs over and over for a few weeks can bring light to a dark place, I’m going to do it.
I ride for the girls who have had their innocence stolen. The ones who feel alone. I ride for freedom. I ride because these girls are worth everything and more.
I ride because as humans we should fight HARD for one another.
So, let’s fight.
If not us, then who?
I didn’t want the girls to think I didn’t have faith in them and their journey, but fear began to set in. The reality of what they were embarking on invaded my heart and mind like a wave. Sleep the night before Lizzie and the team left did not come. I tossed and turned all night as visions and thoughts of all of the things that could possibly go wrong flooded my mind.
Santa Barbara, CA is this place where dreams are made of. I think for many of us it was our favorite part of the trip because the hospitality was overhwhelming, the views were breath taking and lively, and we came in contact with some of the most incredible leaders in the city that are dedicated to fighting present day slavery.
We were already in high spirits because we flew through the 57 miles that we had that day to Hazards Bike Shop there in Santa Barbara. They graciously allowed our bikes to stay there for our rest day and they so happened to be the ones that hid Savannah and Grace to then later surprise us which left us in tears. We each read a part of a letter that the man, the myth, the legend, our California dad Bill Macfadyen (Shout out Bill: he went above and beyond to make our stay in SB the best it ever could be.) had for us from our founders in the parking lot outside the bike shop. At the end of the letter it said “JK. SEE YALL RIGHT NOW!” We went WILD. Sav and Grace jumped out from around our support car and ran at us. It was unreal.
Each of us went to our own host homes in groups of 2-3 and we were taken care of so well by these families that opened up their homes and took us in as one of their own.
The next day was the most unforgettable. We met with the District Attorney of Santa Barbra, Joyce Dudley, and the Human Trafficking Task Force who tirelessly work to fight this horrible crime in their city (you can read the Noozhawk article written about it here.) You should of seen the look on our faces as we sat around this large round table near the city capital. Being 11 smelly girls, we found ourselves deeply encouraged by them. They shared about what they did, from the courtroom to the streets, and in return, we shared about why we rode. I couldn’t believe they really wanted to know about each of our individual decisions of why we took this on. We didn’t have to prove that we were capable to finish this ride of that we were necessarily qualified. They simply believed in us. Like the girls at The Refuge, we believe that healing will come and that they don’t have to prove their worth. We believe that each individual story is worth listening to. The DA shared profound experiences of restoring life back into the eyes of a survivor. This is what this is all about. I think time and time again I am reminded much bigger this ride is than ourselves. This meeting lit a fire in our team and we all laughed at the fact that the DA offered us a job if we went to law school. I will never forget that I honestly contemplated it. :-)
San Diego is literally happening tomorrow. This isn’t a dream anymore but we are called to remember the things we have experienced on this trip and the people we have met and let the life change of it all set in. I am grateful to be sitting here with my bags packed and bike ready for one last day of riding. Santa Barbara feels forever ago but it will always be an important part of this adventure. It fueled us to keep moving forward and guess what, tomorrow we move forward to the finish line of PTP... but this fight against sex trafficking is far from it. We know more now than ever before that we aren’t doing this alone.
If you would like to make a donation for our last day of riding, visit www.pedalthepacific.com/donate
We would also like to thank Judy, Rob, and Al for hosting our team dinner at Goa Taco, Bill Macfadyen, Noozhawk, and Los Arroyos for hosting our dinner at Impact Hub, and all of the families that hosted the team for our two nights in Santa Barbara!
Our time spent in Newport, Oregon remains one of the highlights of our trip - a time of rest we
can look back on and laugh at how little we knew and how far we had to go. Sweet moments
with even sweeter people -- more names to add to the list of countless kindnesses that we
couldn’t complete this journey without.