Welcome to the 2023 Team blog! We are excited to embark on this journey and share it with you along the way. After many months of anticipation, nerves, and excitement we had the opportunity to meet at our recent retreat weekend in Austin, TX.
On Friday the faces we had been seeing on Zoom were finally in front of us and we spent time getting to know one another and exploring the gear library. After we settled in we had a bonfire and heard Savannah share the history of Pedal the Pacific as well as stories from the leadership team about their rides. At this point, the realization washed over me that I was now a part of a community of strong and inspiring women that lift one another up and believe that we all have the power to make a difference. That is something I will be carrying with me throughout training and our ride!
Saturday was our Cycleast day! Russell who has been encouraging and supporting Pedal the Pacific for many years now welcomed us with his wonderful team Ariel, Amber, and Hannah. The team taught us everything I now know about cycling including road safety and how to change tires. Then *drum roll please* WE GOT OUR BIKES! The Cycleast team led us on our very first team ride 16 miles around beautiful downtown Austin. Coming into retreat I was very nervous about my inexperience and lack of knowledge about cycling. Throughout our ride, my confidence began to build and I am so thankful we had the opportunity to ride as a team to kick off training!
Sunday was, as our team has been describing it, an information overload in the best way. A few of my highlights include book club, community development scenarios, and our visit with Jen Newman. As a team, we are reading the book Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd which explores the stories and realities of sex trafficking. Our book club time was special to me because my teammates began to share their hearts for this issue and why they ride. Later in the morning, we did a community development exercise where we acted out different scenarios like team conflict and a flat tire. This was hilarious and a fun way to talk through how we want to approach scenarios as a team. In the afternoon, Jen Newman, Executive Director at Texas, NCMEC spoke to us about the preventative work NCMEC is doing to fight trafficking and keep children safe. I am grateful we had the opportunity to learn from her and ask questions. Our conversations made me feel encouraged and empowered to share with my community about this important issue.
Some more reflections from the team:
- Being around such open-minded and passionate people that are all willing to set their agendas aside to work for the greater good of vulnerable populations was so incredible. - Claire
- It was such a surreal feeling to keep remembering that I get to spend all summer with these people. - Emma
- I was so humbled to be amongst such impressive and passionate women. From the 2023 team to the leadership team to all of the alumni, every single one of you makes me want to be better. And I feel so honored to work alongside such amazing leaders! - Ally
- I loved getting to hear why everyone rides and have really powerful conversations. There are so many terrible things in the world but being with such a passionate group of young women who care so much made me hopeful for the future. I am so grateful to be able to work with this amazing team! - Katherine
- It’s wild to be able to say that our team has officially come together! From the kind sponsors of the weekend to the Leadership Team, retreat is one of many first steps towards educating our community, empowering others, and changing the conversations on sex trafficking. - Sara
- For me, I don't think I've ever been surrounded by a group of people this kind and passionate. You all are people that I look up to and hope to be like. - JP
- Overflowing with gratitude for the love received, not only from my new teammates but also the leadership team, alumni, Cycleast, local businesses, and NCMEC as they further my “why.” I know that support will be at every corner throughout this experience and I could not be more appreciative. - Caroline
We are grateful to have shared a weekend laughing and learning together! Here’s to the seventh year of growing, advocating, and dreaming with PTP. Thank you for supporting us and following along on our anti-trafficking journey! 2023 Team let’s ride!!!