After finding out about it, I could not sit still. I thought to myself. “I have to do this.” “These girls are worth everything. Who am I to just stand by while sex trafficking is happening right now?” I was astonished that I had never heard of this issue before but knew that I had to do something about it.
To the young children & women I am biking for,
I am getting on a bike this summer. I am pedaling 1,700 miles down the Pacific Coast because I want to fight for you. I will meet people who have no idea what you have endured. The pain you have felt. The constant feelings of confusion and unworthiness you encountered everyday. I am biking to start a conversation about the injustice you were dealt. How cruel, unfair, and problematic sex trafficking is. How this problem is one that is a hidden billion dollar industry. How people are actually willing to pay money and use your body. You were made to be something beautiful and empowering. You still are that. I will never know the suffering and fear you have felt. I will never know your story and what you have been through. However, what I do know is that I love you. I love the strength, bravery, courage, boldness, and willingness to keep fighting even when the darkness feels like it’s taking over. How you didn’t stop fighting to breathe and to be you. I love that you are free now and will have the opportunity for the first time in your life to have something that is beautifully your own.
Right now, you are (or soon will be) at an amazing place called The Refuge Ranch located right outside of Austin, TX. This place serves as a holistic and therapeutic place for you to heal. A place to be loved and a home where you can find your passions and be yourself. The beautiful woman you were created to be. The Refuge provides you an education. It provides you a safe place. It even provides you a sweet bed that is all yours, and no one else’s. Fresh clothes, sheets, and other young women to relate to who have endured a similar circumstance to you. So, sweet friend I truly love you. So much that this year when our team of 9 other women gathered to set a goal to raise $250,000 to go toward where you are currently living. We cast a vision to have a large amount of the proceeds be put toward scholarships, so that other women can have healing just like you. I can’t imagine the battle than occurs within you daily. Trying to get through the day without flashbacks or maybe even a certain scent reminding you of your trafficker. You are beautifully redeemed, and on the days where you feel alone or forgotten I hope you remember that you have people fighting for you. Alongside myself and 9 other women, we are going to pedal harder and faster than anything to redeem your story. I am pedaling because as the wise Maya Angelou once said, “each time a woman stands up for herself she stands up for all women.”
My name is Kalindi Cordero- I am a born and raised Texan, Bulldog lover, Mac and Cheese fanatic, lover of dancing in all spaces (psa: tore my meniscus and currently rehabbing my knee so I can bike this summer), personal motivator, and want to help restore the lives of young women and children who have been trafficked.
I will cycle with my legs. I will use my voice to spark change. I will keep pushing forward one day at a time, for all women. They are so worth it. We all are. Let us ride together with love as we continue to fight for justice.
P.S. My bike ride this summer is in honor of my father who passed away from Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma this last August. Dad always reminded me to do something with purpose, passion, and love. I ride for myself, the girls, and for him.
As a child, my thoughts were captive to negativity and self-doubt. Throughout my 8 years as a gymnast, I lived in a ruthless cycle of desperation and disappointment, of negativity and doubt. I practiced for hours on end, craving perfection, but tasting failure as I sold my confidence and significance for the lie that I would never be enough. I was endlessly and hopelessly striving.
It was in this same place that I was exposed to modern day slavery. I learned that my teammate’s mom had been trafficked from the Philippines to Texas and was forced to give all the money she made to a man who claims he gave her a better life. While I did not understand the severity of this crime at the time, I knew that it was wrong, and at 12 years old, the story stirred my compassion. I later learned of the 79,000 minors in my home state of Texas that are forced into sex trafficking.
As I learned about the cycle of sex trafficking- vulnerability, demand, exploitation- I couldn’t help but think of the cycle of negativity that I experienced as a child. I realized a desire that is the same in all of us, in spite of drastically different circumstances, and that is the desire to be seen, be known and be free. The thing about cycles is that they may speed up or slow down, but they continue. There is no end to a cycle unless there is action- someone must intervene. I am cycling 1,700 miles this summer to end the vicious cycle of sex trafficking. My cycle of self-doubt was broken through an abundance of grace and love; and in my freedom I am inspired to set free. If I can rescue one girl from the unspeakable horror of forced prostitution, it would outweigh any sacrifice I could possibly make. How could any sacrifice I make possibly compare to the daily abuse and suffering of a girl ripped of her freedom and sexually exploited?
As a woman I feel the responsibility to be a voice for fellow women whose voices are being silenced. As a human I feel drawn to the opportunity to reach out to those who are most vulnerable- both because of what has been done to them and because of what people see when they look at them instead of in them. I want to look inside and really see these girls! I want to be louder than any voices that have told them that they are anything less than invaluable! We always have the choice to walk away and simply feel a dutiful amount of sympathy in horrific cases such as sex trafficking, or we can venture into the darkness and feel the brokenness, knowing we will come out a completely changed person.
My name is Robyn- I am a Texas lover, One Direction enthusiast (RIP), Auburn Tiger, people-celebrator, thrill-seeker, and freedom fighter.
I am cycling to end the cycle.
Until all are free! Let’s ride
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?