By Per Peterson
Wendy and Kevin Haney have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that human trafficking is an issue that has touched the lives of Minnesotans. But the all-too-real truth is, there are Minnesota cities that have been affected by modern-day slavery.
“This kind of hits home with women and girls,” Wendy said. “It’s not just something that occurs in Third World countries. I flew through Minneapolis and there are signs posted about human trafficking, things to keep an eye out for. It was like, ‘Wow.’ The fact that we have to advertise that …”
The human trafficking issue is one that the Haneys take very seriously.
“It’s a lot closer than you think,” Kevin said. “It’s in St. Cloud, it’s in Duluth. It’s here, even though it’s not a front-page headline all the time.”
“These are our own Minnesota towns,” Wendy added.
The Haney’s passion to fight human trafficking has led them to join this year’s Ride for a Reason motorcycle run. The couple got involved with Ride for a Reason last year and met Scott Schuler of the Young Living Foundation, which puts on motorcycle rides annually for different causes. This year, the group is riding to raise awareness of the human trafficking issue across the country and in Minnesota and raise funds for Hope for Justice, an international organization that fights human trafficking around the world.
Schuler is from Foley, which is where this year’s motorcycle run begins, and the route to Salt Lake City, Utah, will take bikers through Marshall on Sunday, June 10. The public has the option to sponsor a rider (https://younglivingfoundation.org/ride-for-a-reason), with all donations going toward Hope for Justice.
“The thing we like about this year is it’s coming through Marshall,” Kevin said. “They will leave on Hwy. 23 and go through Pipestone, Pipestone to Sioux Falls, then we stop over in Sturgis.”
Last year, $150,000 was raised to help the Young Living Foundation rebuild Yarsa, Nepal, a village that was destroyed by the 2015 earthquakes. To date, some 60 homes in the village of Yarsa have been rebuilt.
“For something that was brand new, it was very successful,” Kevin said.
Four motorcycles, A Polaris Razer and a scooter will be raffled off at next month’s Young Living Convention. The Haneys, for their part, have created a special custom-made quilt to be given away with one of the motorcycles at the convention, which is expected to draw 40,000 people. Wendy is making the quilt, and Kevin did the embroidery work.
The goal this year is to raise $500,000 to help end human trafficking. It’s being promoted world-wide. Total donations already exceed $100,000 as of the end of today.
The Haneys decided last year they were going to be a part of this year’s event, regardless of the cause being supported. Wendy said she came across a quilt with a motorcycle on it in a magazine and thought, “That would be really cool to do for Ride for a Reason,” she said. “Kevin said, ‘You really need to do that.’ So I get the quilt done and Kevin sees this big, yellow spot and says, ‘Oh, we need to embroider on it.’ I said, ‘No, you’re not touching my quilt.’ But it fits. He convinced me he wouldn’t screw up my quilt.”
The Haneys didn’t ride with the group last year, but they plan on joining this year’s run in Kevin’s customized Suburban, which will double as a “support vehicle.” He will be streaming live video from the run and will provide GPS tracking for the whole trip for the riders.
“We’re promoting something we believe in,” Kevin said. “It’s a good cause. Human trafficking does exist; it is out there.”
More about this year’s ride can be found at https://www.facebook.com/rideforareasonyl/ and http://ride.scottandbrenda.com/