Laura Esquivel started Freedom Hikes a year ago to raise money, hoping she could help set people free from sexual slavery. Thirty hikers joined her, raising $21,000 in her first year for Rescue Freedom.
The group hiked the 24-mile Enchantment Trail all the way through in one day. Laura describes some folks in the group having “found” themselves out in the woods that day, in some cases overcoming their own depression while raising money for those in a horrible position.
“I’ve always known about sexual slavery and human trafficking,” she explained. “I was hiking near Lake Viviane in the Enchantments and came up with the idea right there!”
Rescue Freedom is located in Kirkland. They raise money for safe houses and counseling all over the world. They see people through the process from removal to reintigration to a more stable living situation.
Now up to 48 hikers this year, the Freedom Hikes goal is $75,000!
Laura is a trail runner and marathoner from the Tri Cities area of Washington. She grew up hiking the I-90 corridor and talks about her love of getting people outdoors for the first time. She takes her three boys out hiking whenever she can.
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Rudy Giecek of Arlington is the host of the Cascade Hiker Podcast. (More about Rudy here.) You can find the entire archive of podcasts and support his work at his website. Or email him at email@example.com.