It was some time in 2015 when Dr. Joe Savage came to my church as a guest speaker. He spoke on something that I, in my then 15 short years of life, had never really given much thought to: human trafficking. Via a slide show, he introduced us to 10 girls that he had pulled into safety with his refuge, The Emmanuel House - a program now expanded across three nations and called Roads of Hope.
He explained that human trafficking wasn’t simply a third world country issue, but it occurred in America, too -- something I had never heard before. And after telling us all of the statistics and several moving stories about each victim, he said “let me introduce you to my girls,” and brought them out onto the stage. He really did. Not a dry eye in the house.
I was so shocked by the reality of injustice not only overseas but in the United States, too, right under our noses. His message moved 15-year-old me, it really did. But I was just that - 15 - and I didn’t think that I could make any sort of stride towards a difference. I went on like that for two years, knowledgeable about the issue but not using my voice, until I ran across Pedal the Pacific.
It was truly that situation where you’re six people deep on your Instagram stalk, and I somehow happened to run across someone who knew someone else who took a cute picture with Grace’s sister who posted about how proud she was of Grace for this crazy thing she was doing… and you could say the rest is history. By chance (and complete fortune that all of these instas were public) I stumbled upon what is soon to be the greatest adventure of my life thus far.
I followed Grace, Savannah, and Sara’s journey the whole way, living vicariously through their adventures and huge amazing world change, and feeling like a giddy fangirl the entire time. Here were three girls - just regular people - doing something about that thing I cared so much for but never had done anything about myself. I was inspired to say the least. So when they posted about the possibility of a 2018 team, despite being the most underqualified, I had to jump on it.
I’m riding because there are so many like 15-year-old me -- who just don’t think much about it. Or whose hearts hurt for those situations but don’t have any idea where to start. Or who, if given the chance, would do something to help. I’m riding to give them that chance. I’m riding to speak on what I’ve been silent about. I’m riding because I can no longer sit on an issue that breaks my heart. I’m riding to be a part of something bigger than myself. And I’m riding to actually be the change instead of just noiselessly understanding that one should be made.