2021 Blog

Good surprises

Thinking back on the past 15 days, I can’t help but realize how many surprises have come our way— many of which I could never have anticipated. Whether it’s a flooded tent, a dinner donation from the incredible 2020 team, or a bear outside our tent at 1 am, we have consistently been surprised by this entire experience.

What has surprised me most, however, is the actualization of the purpose of Pedal. When I described the goal of pedal the pacific to family and friends, I’d say that we were fundraising for NCMEC and The Refuge while sparking difficult conversations about sex trafficking. Although I thought I knew what this would look like, I severely underestimated the impact of the latter of these two goals. In retrospect, I probably should have known that our colorful jerseys (shoutout graphic designer Sam) and our conspicuous and aesthetic van (thank you Cara) would likely draw some attention.

Whether we are frantically picking up dinner, taking pictures on the side of the road, nearly heaving after a huge hill, or exploring a town on a rest day, we are approached by so many different kinds of people. And what is so surprising and saddening is that so many of these people deeply relate to the issue of sex trafficking. I thought I had an idea of how far reaching trafficking was based on statistics, but each day these conversations remind me of how naive I was.

Whether it’s someone who started a non-profit related to sex trafficking, a family member of a survivor, a victim advocate, or a survivor themselves, so many people are deeply connected to stories of sex trafficking and help educate us, reminding us of why we are here.

On the other hand, we are approached by people who haven’t heard much about trafficking, drawn in either by the cause or by the hilarious spectacle which is us attempting to ride our bikes 1,700 miles. And these interactions— with a pair of bike-packers who have been best friends for life, a 6-year-old who wants a picture, or a man who is driving to every Paris in the United States— are just as meaningful. Most people want to engage and want to learn, and it is so inspiring to connect with so many people who care. I am hopeful about these next 5 weeks, excited for the surprises that lie in store, and ready to continue these meaningful conversations.

May 13, 2022
Sydnee Mwakutuya

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