January is “Human Trafficking Awareness Month.” Meet Sally. Sally is a survivor of human trafficking. Yep! As an avid biker, she is one of us. An icon representing courage in the communities and people she touches. She is also a seasoned professional model who you probably have seen in biker-related media before. Sally is a true warrior. Her story and what she went through is gut-wrenching. I am privileged to be her friend. Sally is the mother to six children and a grandmother of two. She is currently Co-Director of “Fighting Against Trafficking Organization.” Sally also strongly focuses on her practice as a consultant championing the cause of victims’ rights of sexual crimes, domestic abuse, and violence against women and children.
Sally recently won a supreme court case in South Dakota, making it case law across the country, thus giving victims of abuse who are able to prove they have long suffered and currently still suffer from their abuse, the ability to take their perpetrator to civil court for a jury trial and pursue punitive damages. If you voted in the last election, one of the issues to vote on your ballot was a direct result of Sally’s hard work on behalf of victims nationwide. Sally’s expertise has been utilized by legislators throughout the Midwest to help pass new and tougher sex trafficking legislation. She is a sought-after speaker and has successfully contributed to organizations such as; Creighton University’s Human Trafficking Initiative, Women’s Fund, NHTTF Thriver Committee, National Survivor Network, and the Polaris Project.
So, what does that have to do with us all? Well, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally organizers, as well as the city of Sturgis, think it has very much to do with bikers. So much so they decided to team up with Sally’s organization and conduct a charity ride called “FAST Ride” which stands for “Fight Against Sex Trafficking.” In their Memorandum of Understanding the organizer’s state; “We recognize that trafficking doesn’t happen because of events like Sturgis. It happens because demand exists wherever there are large gatherings of people, and traffickers are more than willing to leverage any event to exploit vulnerable individuals for financial gain. But we also recognize that the biker community, in general, is filled with good, compassionate men and women who could be inspired and engaged in combatting this evil; and this is the opportunity we hope to capitalize on with the Sturgis F.A.S.T. Ride 2019.”
FAST Ride Sturgis event will consist of a one-day charity ride. The event will provide the opportunity for Fighting Against Trafficking to have a platform to be heard on the issues of Human Trafficking. It will also allow the EPIK Project to enroll more men into the movement and for the City of Sturgis to proactively participate in the solution as well. The City of Sturgis, EPIK and Ride My Road will combine efforts to host the actual charity ride with the goal of 150-200 riders participating and purchasing ride tickets. Proceeds from the ride will go to the EPIK Project. FAST Ride Sturgis, Ride My Road and EPIK will also partner in creating a custom “Survivor Bike.” A bike has been donated for the purposes of creating a one-off custom build. Proceeds from the bike raffle will go to local organization Fighting Against Trafficking. The city of Sturgis has generously offered to help promote and market the Sturgis FAST Ride within the biker community and within the various networks connected with the rally. Sturgis will also lend logistical and tactical support to event partners with the possibility of a press conference.
Fighting Against Trafficking is a SD-based nonprofit organization led by survivor-leader Sally Richardson and Senator Lynne Hix-DiSanto. Proceeds from this event will benefit the development of services for victims of sex trafficking.
The EPIK Project is a Pacific NW-based nonprofit with work across 11 cities nationally. EPIK focuses on engaging male allies in the effort to combat the demand that drives sexual exploitation.
Ride My Road in partnership with The EPIK Project, is a producer of the FAST ride. Ride My Road is committed to bringing awareness to the fight against human trafficking among the biker community. Through fundraising and public speaking Ride, My Road supports survivor-led organizations and celebrates survivors through photography and media. So my question now is; “When is Daytona Bike Week going to join the fight?” There are multiple well-intentioned organizations fighting against human trafficking in the nation. All effective in their own merit to various degrees. Sally so far has championed the cause because of her own testimony. The fact she is a biker makes her a good ambassador for the cause among us all. Sally is scheduled to visit Florida in January/February 2019. We should all look forward to seeing her.
You can read this article in the January edition of the “Born to Ride” magazine or online here.