“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
Tenacity channeled for an altruistic purpose is the perfect catalyst for change. When Daughters of the Road was given the opportunity to ride along with Adam Sandoval (of Scootinamerica/@adam_sandoval_rides) and Lauren Trantham (@ridemyroad), we jumped at the opportunity to witness the product of such a dynamic combination.
Lauren’s Ride My Road campaign is fueled by her mission to enlighten our culture to the horrors of sex trafficking within our borders, but what the first lesson she taught us yesterday (only one of many) was that to combat brutality, you have to shed light on hope. Lauren, a gifted photographer, elected to ride her motorcycle across the country to photograph various survivors of sex trafficking and raise funds for The Rebecca Bender Initiative, a program built to educate and support those who have survived.
Cruising up on a borrowed 1900 cc Yamaha Raider at Daytona’s Bike Week, Lauren’s vivacious spirit immediately came through; we could easily see just how passionate she is about the work she does. The goal of the day was to connect Adam Sandoval, who currently hosts a web series Kickstands Up highlighting influential people in the motorcycle community, with one of Lauren’s muses.
Over our midday meal, Lauren expanded on the origins of her quest and the details of the epidemic that she strives to expose. Our first shock was when she redefined the common definition of trafficking. Conventionally, people associate the term with those who are kidnapped and forced into the sex trade by strangers. Lauren shared that only 5% of trafficked women are victimized in this manner. Over 98% of trafficked women have what most people know of as a “pimp,” or someone who controls the woman’s money, identity and movement. Lauren shared that over 45% of the women she’s photographed were forced into these acts by a family member. What characterizes these women is not how they come into this situation, but the brutality
that occurs therein.
Only 1% of trafficked women survive the ordeal. Lauren strives to revive the broken spirits that have been consistently beaten, abused and devalued. Using her camera as a “weapon for beauty,” as she calls it, Lauren aims to heal those survivors by capturing in a tangible medium the beauty and strength that each woman exudes.
Some of Lauren's photography can be seen here:
Rendered speechless by what we were hearing, we had to learn more about the woman who is dedicating her life to change these horrible statistics. You wouldn’t know it by looking at her, but underneath Lauren’s bubbly exterior are years of personal pain. After a divorce that left her lacking a sense of worth and identity. Upon reflection and input from others in her circle, Lauren discovered that she had been enduring years of emotional abuse from someone whom she loved and trusted. This paradigm is repeated time and again: the paradox of a strong woman unknowingly subordinated within an abusive relationship. She was so compelled by this, and having been enlightened by the adversity of her own situation, she set her sights on helping others.
She had always found solace in her motorcycle (a hobby her father had attempted to pass to her at the age of 14, but she did not adopt until age 20), so when the opportunity presented itself combine both that passion with her hunger to affect change for women who suffer abuse, she leapt at the opportunity. Like many women who we speak to, Lauren echoes the idea that the sense of empowerment that a life on two wheels provides is therapeutic in times of crisis. Her journey for Ride My Road has allowed her to heal others while also healing herself.
The road trip culminated in over 10,000 miles ridden, over $55,000 raised, and a countless number of women touched, whether through meeting Lauren in person, or following her on social media.
After observing her interactions with others and getting to know her for an afternoon, Lauren exhibits all the qualities that embody the strength that is characteristic of the female moto community.
To follow Lauren’s adventures and learn more about her initiative Ride My Road, you can follow her on Facebook (Ride My Road) and Instagram: @ridemyroad.
Special Thanks to Adam Sandoval and his crew for facilitating this connection and including us behind the scenes of their show Kickstands Up. To follow their journey your can find Adam on Instagram: @adam_sandoval_rides and catch his weekly web series Kickstands Up and other videos on his YouTube channel.