So I’m walking to my car and these two guys are walking in front of me for like 3 blocks. They don’t notice me but everybody was noticing them because they’re near downtown Cleveland wearing huge hiking backpacks but with normal shoes on. At first I thought they might be homeless, but the bags matched and they had tents, so I had to stop and ask them what they were doing…
It turns out that they are walking across the United States to raise awareness about sex trafficking.
ENTER: Plot Twist. I walked 245 miles in 10 days across the state of Ohio back in June because I made a promise to the three women who were kidnapped and sexually abused for 10 years in Cleveland. I promised them I would raise awareness for the victims of sexual violence. I stopped these guys (Jay and Shannon) right in front of the restaurant I ate at immediately after I finished my walk.
I couldn’t believe it. They then tell me that passed by the Cleveland courthouse right before Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years. Since the sentencing was open to the public, Jay actually made it into the courtroom and witnessed the proceeding. He’s in the back right hand corner.
They started with $21 dollars and had been sleeping outside for three weeks. These guys hadn’t had a real shower in 11 days so I let them shower at my place. I gave them my left over supplies from my walk (Clif bars, bug spray, etc.) We walked back to the restaurant and I bought them meals, a couple beers, gave them $300 and said goodbye.
At Ariel Castro’s sentencing, Michelle Knight spoke about her friendship with Gina DeJesus while in captivity. “My friendship with her is the only thing that was good out of this situation. We said we would someday make it out alive, and we did.”
The day after I met Jay and Shannon, I was sent this picture of Gina DeJesus through Facebook. She is wearing a shirt I gave to her mom at the house Gina was imprisoned in. I hope Jay and Shannon make it to LA and achieve what they have set out to do.
They have a facebook page about their journey: https://www.facebook.com/LongRoadToFreedom
If you’re interested in helping Jay and Shannon’s mission to end sex trafficking, donations can be made to the International Justice Mission: http://www.ijm.org/give
If you see them along the way, give them some words of encouragement and tell them Alex says “hi.”
- I posted this story to Reddit and it got over 500,000 views over night! http://imgur.com/a/iPvU2
- Jay posted the picture below to their Facebook page!