A group of cyclists will ride more than 180 kilometres to help raise money for an important cause on Saturday and Sunday (July 25 and 26).
The Freedom Ride is held annually in support of the Magdalene House, a safehouse for victims of human trafficking. The house is situated in Central Alberta, but for safety reasons, its exact location cannot be disclosed.
This year — the ride’s fourth — will see participants set off from École Our Lady of the Rosary School on Saturday morning, and eventually make their way to Sanctum Retreat near Caroline. All in all, riders will travel approximately 90 kilometres to the retreat, before staying the night and returning to Sylvan Lake the next day.
While organizers have set a fundraising goal of between $10,000 and $15,000, raising awareness is just as important as raising money, said Magdalene House Society board member Marian Cloutier.
“We live in a relatively peaceful and law-abiding nation, and people like to think that nothing ever goes wrong, or that hideous crimes like human trafficking don’t exist in Canada,” she said. “(People) never thought it would exist in Canada, let alone Red Deer or Alberta.”
At press time, just seven riders had committed to participating in the event. For organizers, that’s a worrying decrease from last year’s 20.
But Cloutier wants to ensure the event and the cause stay at the fore of people’s minds to help make people aware of the issue.
“(Human trafficking) is a very real issue in Alberta,” she said. “Often times it’s more prevalent in the bigger cities, but I know it exists in Red Deer, and that may spill off into Sylvan Lake too.
“It goes on everywhere and no one really knows about it.”
The Magdalene House is run by volunteers, with funds raised through the Freedom Ride supporting operating costs such as utilities, rent, groceries and other necessities.
Information on supporting the Magdalene House and the Freedom Ride fundraiser is available online at www.magdalenehouse.ca.