Looking at me now, you may have never known that I grew up an extremely shy and reserved kid. Any sort of interaction terrified me, even something as simple as asking the McDonald’s cashier if I could please have another packet of ketchup. In a sense, I grew up feeling like I had no voice. I struggled tremendously with confidence and self-worth. Now, no one made me feel this way. I grew up with a wonderful family and in the close-knit community of Greenwood, AR – it was my own thoughts and insecurities that made me feel trapped. I reminisce on those feelings and think to myself “What if someone had forced those emotions on me? What would it be like to be a victim of someone else rather than myself?”
I started feeling an overwhelming passion to help others who feel the way I once did. It hurts my heart to see people who think about themselves in such a negative light, who struggle to find feelings of self-worth and self-love within themselves – because at a time not too long ago, that was me.
I found out about Pedal the Pacific last year and was able to follow their story through it all – through their victories, their setbacks, and their hilarious everyday shenanigans (such as Grace listening to Back in the Saddle Again by Gene Autry 150 times in one day). As I followed their journey, I found myself wanting to take action, thinking “I want to start something like that”. So, when PTP said that they were looking for a group to continue their efforts, it was a no brainer for me to reach out.
It wasn’t until I had committed to riding this summer that I really started researching more about sex trafficking. One of the first things I stumbled upon was a short, 4-minute video called “America’s Daughters”, a poem written and performed by a survivor of trafficking. And in those 4 short minutes, I knew my decision to be a part of PTP was undoubtedly the right one.
Human trafficking is a direct attack on our basic human rights. Free will is one thing we are all born with, and due to the inhumane actions of certain people, that right gets ripped away from some. Not only is this reality infuriating and disheartening – it is unacceptable. I will never stop fighting for the free will of others because no one should ever feel less than worthy, less than enough, less than human.
There have been nights where I have sat on my laptop for hours, looking up videos of survivor’s stories, being horrified of the magnitude of this problem right here in the US. And then there will be days that I’m walking through campus and I find myself lost in thought about the day human trafficking is no longer a reality. I think about the numerous survivors The Refuge will help, and I tear up right there in the middle of campus, just in awe of a vision that is bigger than myself. One thing I’ve learned in life is that we can’t do it all by ourselves. We need each other. We can all lend a hand in this fight – whether it be dedicating an abundance of your time to the cause or simply starting a conversation, no voice or act is too small to make a difference. That is why I ride.