Originally written by Cassidy Ryan
TIU seniors Jono Mullins, Dustin Alewine, Dan Johnson and Tom Kenney are setting out this summer to bike from Deerfield, Ill., to Orange County, Calif., with a mission to help raise awareness for girls trapped in human trafficking.
The idea of biking from Illinois to California originated from Alewine, who got the idea from his father, who made a similar trip after graduating college. Originally, only Alewine and Mullins were going to make the cross-country trip, but the group soon expanded to include Johnson and Kenney while adopting the moniker Bike4Solution.
What began as a memorable senior trip turned into a lot more when Johnson had the idea to partner up with Bright Hope International, the anti-human trafficking organization that the football team partnered with during their last season. Bright Hope aggread to help organize and fund the trip if the group would raise awareness for sex trafficking along the way. Bike4Solution’s goal is to raise $50,000 for Bright Hope.
“We wanted to make the bike trip bigger than us,” Johnson said. “The football team partnered with Bright Hope in the fall and we liked the organization, so we presented the idea to them.”
According to Bright Hope’s website, more than $32 billion is annually generated by the human trafficking industry. Additionally, 2.8 million people are trapped in slavery in India, and 80 percent of those people are women and children. Once a girl is sold into the trade by her parents, she will likely stay there because she has no education or money.
Bright Hope’s Anti-Human Trafficking initiative focuses on equipping local partner-churches in India with the tools needed to eradicate sex trafficking in their villages. Bright Hope seeks to train the churches to identify victims, facilitate rescues, and provide physical and spiritual restoration. In addition, they also provide the rescued women with an education and job training to aid in a promising future.
None of the Bike4Solution team members have long-distance biking history, but, according to the guys, that just adds to the excitetment and challenge of the trip. To prepare for the two-month, 2,200-mile trip, the team has been training on stationary bikes, averaging around 15 miles per day with one 50-mile ride ber week.
The trek to California will begin on June 12. The team aims to reach Colorado Springs, Col. in two weeks, where Kenney will be the best man in his brother’s wedding.
“After Colorado, we really don’t have any solid timeline. We’re just going to pace ourselves and enjoy the ride,” Alewine said.
Those interested in learning more about the project can visit Bike4Solution’s Facebook page. Donations can be made at bike4solution.org.
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