Motorcyclists and riders are participating in a freedom ride to raise awareness about child sex trafficking on Saturday.
The Harley Davidson dealership in south Fort Myers will be joining the ride, known as the Underground Railroad.
Operation Underground Railroad is an organization that works to rescue victims of child sex trafficking.
In 2019, 172 minors were sex trafficked in Florida. Florida is ranked number three after California and Texas for sex trafficking in the U.S.
The Southwest Florida Rockstar Harley Davidson and the Rockstar Hog Chapter are getting together for the ride which will go from Fort Myers to Clewiston. They plan to take off at 10 a.m.
The organization works with law enforcement in 21 countries to rescue minors. The ride is meant to bring awareness to the plight of children who have been taken.
Laura Pamatian, with Operation Underground Railroad, said with kidnapping and trafficking, 99% of the time the victim knows their abuser.
“They know their family friends, they’re family, they’re coaches and teachers. People they are already familiar with and that’s how it happens,” Pamatian said.
For a long time, the subject was hidden from the mainstream, said Chase Hyles, with Operation Underground Railroad of Southwest Florida.
“No one really wanted to talk about it for years,” Hyles said. “Now that we’re getting the word out, getting people aware of what’s really going on, it’s really created a sense of urgency.”
For more information on Operation Underground Railroad visit the link.