GRANTS PASS, Ore.-- Eight cyclists are riding 1,500 miles to raise awareness for human trafficking.
The mix of Oregonians and Californians left Bend on September 10th. They plan to make it down to Newport Beach, California by the 24th. During the trek, they are stopping in towns, like Grants Pass, to inspire people to action.
"It is the fastest growing illegal enterprise in the world," The Freedom Ride Organizer Beth Gegner said. "And one of the reasons is because there's so much money to be made at it, and it's still much more difficult to catch a pimp than it is to bust someone who has drugs." "
So far, Lisa Bowerman said the hardest day was Monday, September 12th. They rode about 150 miles, from Westfir to Myrtle Creek.
"What got me through the day was I just kept thinking about all of these people--these young girls who don't have freedom."
Despite the long day, she said the cause is worth it.
"I'm hoping as we go through these different towns, we inspire people to plug in to their local organizations in their town and actually do something."
Gegner said her passion for raising human trafficking awareness began in the 1990s--when she was working at an orphanage in Thailand.
"The parents were selling their children into sex trafficking as early as the age of four, and I met some of those kids," Gegner said. "My heart was really moved about it."
Now, she has combined that passion with her love of cycling, and has eight dedicated athletes with her, all pedaling towards the same goal.
Steve Raycraft with Abolish Child Trafficking said said it is events like this that turn baby steps into something bigger.
"One pedal closer to ending the problem of slavery," Raycraft said.
To stay connected with the cyclists, click here. They also have a website, and a place to donate.