PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. —
Joined by a large police escort, nearly two dozen cyclists finished what they called the “Hope Ride” Monday afternoon.
“Just so emotional,” said one of the cyclists, Dave Kush.
“I must say, I got a little teary,” said another cyclist, Claudia Garrell.
That’s because this was no ordinary bike ride. It started Saturday in Jacksonville.
Since then, they’ve ridden 100 miles each of the next three days – 300 miles in all – ending in Palm Beach Gardens. They did it to raise money and raise awareness of human trafficking.
“It happens right here in our county, right here in Palm Beach Gardens, in West Palm Beach,” said James Duvall, the man who organized the Hope Ride.
Duvall is a pastor at Christ Fellowship Church. He said he organized the Hope Ride after learning more about human trafficking.
According to the U.S. Department of State, nearly 25 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking.
In 2020, more than 700 cases were reported in Florida. Only Texas and California saw more cases in the U.S.
“That’s why we said we had to do something,” said Todd Mullins, the senior pastor at Christ Fellowship. “We maybe can’t solve the problem everywhere, but it’s happening right here in our backyard.”
Christ Fellowship partnered with A21, an organization that combats human trafficking. Together, they came up with the idea for the Hope Ride.
“A little bit of suffering on the bike is nothing compared to the suffering that people go through every day,” Duvall said.
And the riders said that’s why any time it felt too difficult, they just reminded themselves why they were doing it. And that encouraged them to keep going.
“We were driving through some areas where we knew, ‘Hey, this is an area where possibly human trafficking is happening,’” Kush said. “And we’re helping to be part of the solution to this.”
“Whatever suffering we did, it was minimal. It was compared to the suffering that a lot of women, a lot of people that are going through slavery,” Garrell said.
“I think if we can help rescue one kid, one person out of slavery, then every time we do 300 miles, every time we’re on the bike, it’s worth a little bit of suffering,” said Duvall.
You can donate to the Hope Ride here. Every dollar goes to A21.