“They look tough and mean, but most these guys have really soft hearts,” said one organizer of the event and founder of The Epik Project, Tom Perez.
Local and national anti-sex trafficking non-profit organizations came together to host the ‘FAST Ride Charity Event’ or ‘Fight Against Sex Trafficking’ Ride in southern Oregon for the first time this weekend.
“We did a social distancing route through the Rogue Valley, riders and participants stopped in 5 different locations and at each location they learned something new about human trafficking,” said another organizer and founder of Ride my Road, Lauren Trantham.
Non-profit organizations The Epik Project, The Rebecca Bender Initiative and Ride my Road say nearly 40 to 50 riders participated. They began at Callahan’s Mountain Lodge near Ashland and ended at Roxy Ann Winery in east Medford.
Each stop on the ride featured videos for riders to watch about the dangers of sex-trafficking.
“The first was the ‘bought’, where they learned about the victimization and whose actually a victim of this. The second stop was the ‘business’, which is how traffickers actually work in making money. The third one is the buyers, which is where we talk about who is driving this industry,” Trantham said.
For Grants Pass native and sex-trafficking survivor, Rebecca Bender, it’s exciting to see the event happen in the Rogue Valley. She says although it goes unseen to many, trafficking is happening in the valley.
“It does happen here. It does happen all over the state of Oregon. I think last year in Jackson County alone, there was 27 cases according to the Department of Justice,” said Bender.
The 80-mile motorcycle scavenger hunt also helps fund raise for the non-profits, raffling off goods and entering people for a chance to win a custom restored bike.
“We’re hoping that people get a fuller picture that it’s not like the movie Taken, you know, where kids are dragged from under the bed. It’s actually hidden in plain sight,” Perez said.
For anyone who missed the event and would like to donate to the cause, click here for more information.
NBC5 News reporter Mariah Mills is a Medford native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism. She also minored in sociology.
In school, she covered Oregon athletics for the student-run television station, Duck TV. When she’s not reporting, she’s reading, hiking and rooting for her favorite teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.