Biking for broken dreams: Three local young men are planning a trek across America to raise awareness for human trafficking
A group of local young men are planning to set out on a cross-country biking trip Thursday, hoping to spend the next three months learning about and raising awareness of the issue of human trafficking.
Initiated and conceived by 27-year-old Boise, Idaho, resident Andrew Wallace, he will be biking from Neah Bay, Wash., to Virginia Beach, Va., with brother Matthew Wallace, 20, of Winlock, and friend Jesse Cummins, 21, of Chehalis. Their journey is expected to take three months and their plan is to live off of what they can carry on their bicycles, and what can be offered by kind strangers.
Andrew Wallace said he felt compelled to generate awareness about human trafficking after reading disturbing accounts of the trade online, including the story of a woman in California being lured into a limo with hopes of becoming a model, only to be gang raped repeatedly.
“I want to do what I can do to end it,” said Andrew Wallace, stating it is his hope to visit locations throughout the country where high levels of human trafficking occur, including Portland, Ore., Reno and Las Vegas, Nev., and Kansas City, Kans.
He said they intend to meet with victims’ advocacy groups at such locations and interview individuals who have helped people escape the slave trade, as well as those who have previously been sold themselves as commodities.
“A part of raising awareness is to learn more,” said Andrew Wallace, adding their intent is to capture the interviews on video—as well as the journey itself—and create a documentary about the subject of human trafficking after they return. “Human trafficking has been gaining more press…when more people are aware, the outcry will become bigger.”
For all three cyclists, this will be their first trip cross-country, and they say they feel ready to be challenged by what the open road has to throw at them.
“It’s kind of hard to train for something like this,” said Matthew Wallace, who already bikes to work from Winlock to Centralia. “There’s nothing to prepare you.”
The three have done what research they could through online bicycling communities, as well as spoken with others who have made such treks, and plan to bring small tents and sleeping bags for the nights when they do not have a roof offered to them, and just two sets of clothing to simplify their packing needs.
In the large stretches of wilderness they face in such places as Arizona and Nevada, they said they plan to take enough water and food to sustain them and be ready for scant signs of civilization. Cummins joked he feels he may be able to bike around 30 miles after drinking one gallon of water on a tough day, and could get as many as 50 miles-to-the-gallon if the ride proved easier.
But they are quite conscious of the fact that their trek is no laughing matter and that they face a chance to uplift and enlighten others with every mile they bike.
Once on the road, the three will be posting updates to http://www.winlove.org, including regular accounts of how their journey is progressing and maps of the routes they plan to take. Andrew Wallace said any biking enthusiast of any skill level is welcome to join them on their journey, even if just to show support while traveling through their town.
“There’s an open invitation to come bike,” he said. “If they want to bike with us 5, 10 or 100 miles, we’re down.”
To learn more about their trip or how to support them, visit http://www.winlove.com, or check out their Facebook page.
Jesse Cummins (left), 21, of Chehalis, Matthew Wallace (center), 20, of Winlock, and Andrew Wallace (right), 27, of Boise, Idaho, plan to depart Thursday from Neah Bay, Wash., to Virginia Beach, Va., for a three-month biking trip across America in hopes of raising awareness of human trafficking. It will be their first such trip, and they plan to document their experiences for a film to be produced after they return.
Sunshine, Andrew Wallace’s Volvo, was used to help promote their cause during his drive from Boise to Winlock, where he grew up.
One of the bracelets used to raise awareness of the issue of human trafficking, the availability of which can be found at www.winlove.org.