By Gabi Garrett/contributing writer
Madi Warner just graduated from an often confusing time — high school — but talking to her, you would assume she was a young adult in her early 20s.
She not only holds herself well and speaks eloquently, but her drive to change the world is impressive.
Warner plans to major in English at The University of Alabama this fall. Prior to rushing her favorite sorrority on Aug. 11, though, she has a world to change.
In just a few weeks, she heads to Seattle to participate in Pedal the Pacific, a group started by three young women last year to raise awareness of human trafficking.
Pedal the Pacific is in its second year, but was originally meant to be a one-time event to spark conversation about human trafficking and the estimated 30 million to 45 million people who are trapped in modern-day slavery today.
Among the 83 women that applied, Warner is one of 11 who are self-proclaimed “hilariously unathletic” yet passionate about fighting the sex trafficking phenomenon facing not only our nation, but the world. Warner is the youngest of the 11 and traveling the farthest from home.
When asked if Warner was intimidated by this month-long, naturally out-of-comfort-zone adventure, she said, “Yes.”
But without hesitation, she continued. “I finally did my 60-mile ride, and it was so difficult that at the 40-mile mark my body felt so tired, I began to cry. I had a coach with me and she encouraged me. ‘It’s just pain,’ she said,” Warner said, “Then, I connected the dots. This small about of pain I’m feeling is just discomfort compared to the horror victims of human trafficking are facing.”
This realization coupled with the pop song “This Is My Fight Song” kept Warner going to the last 10 miles, which she noted flew by because she was fueled by such passion for this cause.
“The reason Pedal the Pacific is so important to me is the girls are just regular girls, just like me, but they’re doing something to help end human trafficking,” Warner said. “When I saw them on social media I thought ‘This is crazy and I want to help.’”
The organization raised $60,000 last year, which will build a Refuge Ranch in Texas for minors rescued from human trafficking. It will house 48 girls ages 11-19 and will serve as a model for future refuges, it is hoped.
According to recent research conducted by the University of Texas, 79,000 people are victims of human trafficking in the state of Texas alone. Without the ranch, there are only 24 beds for victims in Texas today. The contrast of those numbers is startling.
The goal for this summer’s ride is $250,000, which will continue to increase support for victims around the United States.
After the ride concludes, Warner hopes she will arrive at The University of Alabama which such strong legs the ground will shake as she walks onto campus.
“It’s always been my dream to teach English. Since I was little, every grade I graduated I decided that was the ‘best year so far,’ so that’s the year I wanted to teach,” laughed Warner. “Since I’ve learned of human trafficking, though, I can’t imagine myself not being part of the fight.”
Warner hopes during her quiet pedal time — 60 miles per day — she will have time to develop her thoughts and reaffirm her plans for the future.
Even if you’re just one person facing a seemingly impossible challenge such as human trafficking, Warner reminds me, you can still make a difference.
Help support the cause by visiting: pedalthepacific.com/donate.
Editor’s note: The author of this story donated her compensation to Madi Warner’s cause.
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