The Orange Leader
An estimated 600,000 - 820,000 men, woman and children are trafficked across international borders each year, approximately 80 percent are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors according to the US State Department.
Those numbers and personal friends who were sexually abused growing up are why Chance Stephens, 27, of California and Jacob Leonard, 19 of Lamesa, Texas, are walking across America to raise awareness of human trafficking and funds for Tiny Hands International.
“Tiny Hands intercepts about 140 girls each month, girls who would otherwise be sold into a brothel,” Stephens said one the Tiny Hands International website. “The average age internationally is 15, some girls are abused by as many as 40 men a day. The cost for Tiny Hands to intercept a girl is about $100.”
Stephens, originally from Oklahoma, is a Air Force veteran who served for six years.
“I was in Utah visiting and prayed to God to use my hands,” Stephens said. “I went to a church while a Tiny Hands representative was there. God gave me direction. I left 90 days later.”
Leonard joined Stephens in his walk approximately three month ago.
“I heard his story and was driven by it,” Leonard said. “I had been sitting at home doing nothing for two months and when I spoke to him about walking with him, he told me to pack my bags.”
Leonard said he had dated several girls who had been sexually abused and was not aware the Stephens was had friends in a similar situation growing up.
“I did not know that about him before and when I did, it hit me harder,” Leonard said. “We have to protect the other girls.”
The men are currently in Orange during their trek of awareness and will speak Sunday at Cove Baptist Church.
Stephens is hopeful to reach West Virginia in eight months.
“If there are enough funds, I may continue onto New York,” Stephens said.
Stephens goal is to raise $160,000.
“We have raised $67,000 online,” Stephens said.
To follow Stephens in his trek across America visit http://achancefor.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/AChanceFor