116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
An annual event taking place later this month aims to raise awareness about human trafficking — which has increased in prevalence during the COVID-19 pandemic — in small communities that can be hotbed for the issue.
Chains Interrupted, a Cedar Rapids nonprofit focused on combating human trafficking in Eastern Iowa, will host its third annual Freedom Ride on Saturday, June 26.
The motorcycle ride will serve as a fundraiser for Chains Interrupted's programming for human trafficking victims, but the main goal is to better inform Eastern Iowans about the issue and empower community members to help put a stop to the practice in their town.
“I do believe we can make it really hard for traffickers to work in our local environment and in our communities by knowing what’s going on,” said Tish Young, event organizer and member of Chains Interrupted board of directors.
Registration for the June 26 event starts at 9 a.m. Cost to participate is $15 per rider and $10 per passenger.
Motorcyclists will leave the Metro Harley-Davidson in Cedar Rapids, located at 2415 Westdale Dr. SW, at 10 a.m.
Riders will travel through communities surrounding Cedar Rapids, making stops in Troy Mills, Manchester and Springville before reaching their final destination in Walford.
At each stop, Young said she will give a short speech highlighting Chains Interrupted programming, including its hotel/motel project that aims to reduce trafficking in those spaces. It’s estimated at least 70 percent of human trafficking takes place in hotels and motels.
Young said she also plans to share signs to look for that may indicate human trafficking is taking place in the community as well as ways parents can protect their children from online grooming.
Some experts say human trafficking has increased nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic, which Young says heightens the need for awareness.
“The reality is that prevention is key,” Young said. “We know only a small percentage of victims actually come out of that life — some studies suggest less than 5 percent. So to keep kids from going in, prevention is key.”
An after party is scheduled at the Freedom Ride’s final stop at Wild Hogs Saloon in Walford, which will include food and music from local musician Billy Heller. Riders are expected to reach the location at about 3 p.m.
Even if they don’t participate in the ride itself, Young said anyone is welcome to attend the after party to learn more about Chains Interrupted.
Individuals interested in participating can purchase their tickets online ahead of the 2021 Freedom Ride on the nonprofit’s website, chainsinterrupted.com/events.
For more information about the June 26 event and Chains Interrupted, visit chainsinterrupted.com or contact Young at (319) 551-3056.
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