WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- More than 50 cyclists and several runners are making the 200 mile trek from West Des Moines to Lake Okoboji Friday to raise money for human trafficking survivors.
It started as a ride just for fun and to see see if they could do it and then turned into more.
“OK200: Stop the Traffic is a one day, 200 mile bike ride. We raise awareness and funds to help fight human trafficking and we got into it because at first we started off as a goal to ride 200 miles and four guys did that. Then we found out about how awful human trafficking is and we said you know we can use this ride as a platform to help raise awareness and funds for survivors of trafficking,” OK200: Stop the Traffic Co-Founder Rocky Vest said.
They have been training for a while and have been doing about four long rides per week to prepare for the big day.
Vest said he and his co-founder Andy McCoy decided on the cause because there are an estimated 45 million enslaved.
“What many people in Iowa don’t realize is that it’s happening right here, too. We have recovering victims in Iowa and evidence that there are trafficking rings operating in and around the Midwest,” Vest said.
The first year they raised $3,500 with four men riding and bumped it up to 60 men and women riders in 2016, who raised $110,000.
“Our goal for this year’s ride is to raise $150,000,” Vest said.
Vest said the organization donated funds to Dorothy’s House in the past and teamed up with Youth Emergency Services & Shelter of Des Moines.
Both organizations provide physical and emotional healing services for recovering trafficking victims in Iowa.