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Three biking across country to prevent child sexual abuse make a stop in Aiken

8/2/2010 8:32 PM

By AMY BANTON

Staff writer


Three young men are biking across the country in hopes to help one sexually abused child for every mile they travel.

Tyler Gilliam, 24, Mike Allen, 23, and Landon Phillips, 22, are riding their bikes from Charleston to Los Angeles to raise money and awareness of preventing child sexual abuse. The campaign is called Pedal for Prevention, and its goal is to raise money for Darkness To Light, a national nonprofit organization that sheds light on the fragile topic of child sexual abuse.

"You only get one shot at childhood and once that's gone, it's gone forever; that's very unfortunate," Gilliam said.

The organization offers a training program called Stewards of Children that teaches people how to recognize and help kids who may have suffered abuse. Money raised during the trip is specifically going toward the training program.

The cyclists' first stop was in Aiken at the Child Advocacy Center on Monday. Aiken City Mayor Fred Cavanaugh and his wife Lee, Aiken City Public Safety Director Pete Frommer, representatives from the Cumbee Center and Aiken Regional Medical Centers and the staff of the Child Advocacy Center welcomed them.

Gilliam said that they plan to make 15 major stops along the way to spread awareness as they travel more than 4,000 miles. The three want to share the cause of Darkness To Light and hope to encourage others to take the training course the organization offers.

They encourage anyone to do the training so they can prevent abuse or recognize the signs and learn how to react to the situation.

"Even just as a parent, the training is great for awareness," Phillips said.

Gilliam said that they want to raise $10 per mile, which would be about $40,000 for scholarships that will go toward putting people through the program. He said that it takes $10 to train each person, so, if they reach that goal, every mile will help one child.

Each of the three men joined the cause to take the negative news and statistics of child sexual abuse and turn it into something proactive. They believe that instead of just talking about it, something needs to be done.

"It's all non-empowered discussion, but there are ways to stop it," Gilliam said.

Allen is from the United Kingdom and said that one reason he was inspired by the cause was due to the sex abuse scandal in Catholic churches in Ireland.

"I really want to get this rolling in the U.K.; it's an amazing thing," he said.

Gayle Lofgren, the executive director of the Child Advocacy Center, offered to let them stay at her home Monday. She said that the three men were inspiring.

"Their energy and enthusiasm are infectious," she said. "We hear so much of the sadness; we want to see things turn around."

The three cyclists were given a tour of the advocacy center. Gilliam said that individuals working with sexually abused children firsthand have a tough job, one that makes their cross country ride not look so difficult.

"It reaffirms what we are doing; it's awesome and inspiring," he said.

The three plan to get to California by mid-October.

To make a donation or to follow the three men on their cross-country bike ride, visit www.PedalforPrevention.com.

Two free training sessions for child sexual abuse prevention will be held Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Aiken Center and Sept. 25 at the River of Life from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

For more information, call Lofgren at 644-5100.

Contact Amy Banton at abanton@aikenstandard.com.

source: http://www.aikenstandard.com/Local/0803-Pedal-prevention

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"How can anyone believe in a God whose servants abuse children and whose hierarchy protects the abuser?"


Myth #2 - Most sexual abuse of boys is perpetrated by homosexual males.

Pedophiles who molest boys are not expressing a homosexual orientation any more than pedophiles who molest girls are practicing heterosexual behaviors. While many child molesters have gender and/or age preferences, of those who seek out boys, the vast majority are not homosexual. They are pedophiles.


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