“What’s this race y’all are doing?”
The kind woman glanced at our jerseys curiously as she gently asked this question. Her sweet dog (named scout!) stood loyally at her side, stealing love from our dog loving hearts.
Surprisingly, after nearly 1000 miles, nobody has ever assumed we were racing. Perhaps our chaotic energy and lack of professionalism give us away; this was the first time anybody had ever asked me this question.
I responded quickly and enthusiastically.
“Actually we aren’t racing! We are biking from seattle to San Diego, but the purpose isn’t speed, we are trying to raise awareness about sex trafficking!”
More questions were asked, more information was exchanged, and a connection was formed. The woman ended up donating $10 which was such an unexpected and kind gift.
It wasn’t until later that night that I began to rethink my response to her.
Yes, I had been right. We weren’t racing our bikes. We emerge from our tents clumsily each morning and take our sweet time heading out. We stop at host homes to rest. We take long breaks. We eat lunch and laugh and wander into campsites too late sometimes and have to set up our tents in the dark. We definitely are not racing our bikes.
But maybe we should be racing, not on our bikes, but toward justice. Human trafficking abounds in this world. Child sex trafficking is the fastest growing crime. A race to exploit is already occurring; this race must be met with a race to protect, to prevent, to restore.
NCMEC, our beneficiary this year, has been racing toward justice for years and years.
Their CyberTipline is a race to protect those who are being exploited as soon as a tip comes in.
Their promise to never stop looking for those who are missing is a race to find answers to families who are hurting.
Their support of survivors through financially compensation for consultation is a race to reform their services to be more effective and more loving.
NCMEC is a part of this race toward justice and I want to be a part of it too. When biking, slow mornings and long breaks are fun and no big deal, but when real people are being exploited, an urgency must exist. There is no time to wait. There is no time to rest aimlessly. The time is now for us to step forward and race toward a world where people are not for sale.
I wish I could go back to the sweet woman and insert a new reply.
“We aren’t racing in a bike race, but instead we are using our bikes to contribute to a race for justice. We desire a world where people are not for sale and want that world to be here now and so, we are joining NCMEC to race toward that world.”