"I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love."
900 Miles. On Bikes.
You read right. Eight hoosiers (aka Indiana locals) are riding from Indianapolis to New York City, and they're on the road as I type somewhere in western Pennsylvania. These eight people weren't cyclists. They're ordinary people who are taking their call as abolitionists to an extraordinary level. Why? While they are doing it to get your attention and raise money, their purposes go much deeper. I've copied these entries from their blog, "To Freedom, For Freedom." This is why they're riding. In their own words...
RIDER: Lindsey Hein
"146. Picture a child with that number pinned on her shirt. That is what she is to the man that walks in the door to purchase her for the hour or maybe the night. Does that make you sick? What if this little girl was your daughter? Fathers, get angry. This is a tragic reality to children who are no different from your own daughters.
Sometimes when I think about this horrible injustice that goes on all over the world, the easiest thing to do is push it aside and go about my happy little life. It is so profoundly sad what these little girls are enduring. It hurts if you go to the place in your heart that is deep enough to honestly disrupt your life. But is it worth it to go there? It's sick how easy it is to block this mess out of my mind and think I am just one person and I can't do big things. I won't do that though- I can't. It's not fair. These little girls deserve the happy, safe, carefree childhood that I had. These little girls deserve to ride bikes, play soccer, climb on monkey bars and play tag.
They deserve to curl up on their dad's lap at night and fall asleep feeling safe. Picture your favorite childhood memory and take that away. That's not ok.
I am riding my bike from Indianapolis to New York with some amazing friends in hopes to raise awareness for this issue. I don't even feel right calling it an issue to be honest... it's more than an issue it is a disgusting reality.
I do not enjoy riding my bike much. I like the idea of riding. I like the idea of saying I can ride my bike all the way to New York. In all reality though, I am a runner. I love running, I am good at running and most of all I enjoy it... so naturally I could run a few marathons and raise awareness for Love 146. That would not challenge me though. I'm going to run the marathons either way. I am not however going to ride my bike to New York either way. So when I am riding on the fifth day of our trip, hating the way my body feels, I'm not going to think of my pain or what I feel at that moment. I am going to think about a little girl who deserves the same childhood I had. She deserves to be free. I'm not riding for me. I'm riding for her."
RIDER: Adam Bocik
I am a musician. I am a husband. I am a student. I am an entrepreneur. I am an activist. I am not a cyclist.
Don't get me wrong; I enjoy a leisurely ride in the woods, but the thought of a 7 mile bike ride to work on regular roads with cars and trucks and people looking out their windows thinking, "He must have gotten a DUI," just isn't that appealing to me. Needless to say, riding a bicycle to New York City was not my first option for two weeks of vacation time this year.
As my wife and I's passion for human rights and social justice has grown over the past few years though, we decided we wanted to do something practical and tangible this year. As we began to discuss possible options, the idea to do this ride was presented, and we agreed; this was it. Despite the dread I may feel when I think about how my butt is going to feel after riding 6 to 8 hours, 7 days consecutively, I cannot help but compare my mild and temporary discomfort to the horrible and grotesque realities that face millions of women and children around the world every day. Upon which I realize, there is no comparison.
So, I will be... a cyclist.
RIDER: Amanda Bocik
When I was first awakened by the reality of young children and women being sold into slavery for sex, I was utterly disturbed and broken. I weeped. I had no idea these kind of crimes were happening today. I became very passionate about the rescue and restoration of these victims.
When the idea came to ride from Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana to the Statue of Liberty in New York City to raise awareness and support for this cause, I thought about how crazy it seemed to do it. Then one day, as I was reflecting on this adventure, a picture came to my mind. It was an image of a stranger carrying the burden of a broken and beaten being. It was beautiful.
Suddenly, I was filled with the realization that this is why I must ride. These children have been abused, broken, and exploited. This ride is my way of trying to carry some of their burden. I am a stranger and at times I have questioned my sanity, my ability, and my purpose to take on such a monumental task as this 900+ mile ride. Then I remember their faces - their numbers. This is why I ride to the symbol of freedom, for freedom.
RIDER: Kaylin Linnemann
27 Million people cannot ride their bikes to freedom; but I can. 27 Million people cannot bring awareness to the fastest growing crime in the world; but I can. I first heard about human trafficking two years ago in a world affairs class at the Fashion Institute of Technology. A few months later I was invited to see a film called “Call and Response.” The film is based on a technique used in African music known as call and response. Call and response was so critical to the African slave trade because it involved the audience. The vision of “Call and Response” is to place the call out to the audience with hopes of rallying a response to modern day slavery that creates a bottom-up movement. I am responding to the call on September 24, 2010 by riding my bike from Indianapolis, Indiana to New York City and the Statue of Liberty in order to raise money and awareness for Love 146 and the issue of child exploitation…. to freedom, for freedom.
Shout out and thanks to the others on this team, Cary Teeple, Debi Teeple, Glenn Hein, Brooke Trindle, Greg Anderson, & Lori Anderson.
Closing in the words of one of my new heroines, Lindsey Hein,
"This is real. Be moved and be one more person who fights for the freedom of these beautiful girls."
Inspired and Grateful,
ps: If this has inspired you as well and you'd like to support the To Freedom For Freedom ride, you can donate here.