I saw myself awkwardly trying to guide myself into the ladies restroom of the airport in my first handicapped experience. I carefully angled the wheelchair around corners, hoping nobody would bump my freshly crushed ankles. To somehow use the restroom in such small spaces, without using my legs, and escaping the germs was impossible. The ladies were rushing in and out of stalls, to the sink, and to not miss their flights. It was uncomfortable trying to stay out of their way while maneuvering this new vehicle.
My ankles weren’t bandaged yet since I refused medical treatment. I knew I would be trapped in Portland once my ankles were x-rayed so I decided to suck it up to get back home to Columbus, Ohio by eating ibuprofin and carried bags of ice that the weight made any comfort impossible. My legs were fatigued to hold them up in the air unable to rest them without feet or ankles touching anything, not to mention a three hour lay over.
The fears and frustrations within this flashback was from one of the last times I was in an airport. It took a moment for me to readjust from this trigger and remind myself I was ok and wasn’t going to need to physically drag myself into a stall like I did in my memory.
I collected my thoughts and walked over to my gate where I thought to text Andrew, my representative of love146 that raises awareness to end child sex trafficking, to see if I could do anything while visiting Colorado for them, but I didn’t send the text.
I’ve been working with Andrew for two years now, although we have never met. All of our communication has been done via text, email, or Facebook while he and his family live in Connecticut. Last January, he rushed out in a snowstorm to express deliver a media package to a Washington state hostel I was going to stay in 45 minutes away from where my competitions were to be held at Mt. Hood. I was so excited about this media package to have more information to give people about love146 and horrific statistics as I told them about my snowboarding tour to end child sex trafficking.
Once I landed in Portland, the ice storm there had flipped a semi over the only bridge to get to my hostel and the car rental would not allow me to leave with the car I paid for online. Trust me, I begged. The state of Oregon called for SUV’s and all vehicles to have snow tires with chains. Between upgrading my cheapest vehicle to an SUV plus two weeks in a hotel would cost at least an extra $1,500 that I couldn’t afford to start off this three month tour with such a financial hit.
I immediately texted Andrew to not send the media package yet because I wouldn’t be able to get to it. The package was already shipped, so then I was on the phone with the hostel owners in Washington State. Knew it would be the smarter thing to get on the plane back to Columbus but I was relentless and was not giving up yet. I updated my facebook status hoping to find anybody that might know somebody that had a couch I could crash on. I decided to stay and for the first two weeks of this tour, I didn’t know where I was going to sleep but each night something worked out…. somehow.
Andrew was my main communication point through this chaos. I continued sharing my story with the people I met through airports, Starbucks, and competitions, asking them if they knew their hometown Portland was ranked as the one of the highest cities in the United States for human trafficking. Everyone was shocked to hear statistics. This is the point I wanted to give them information but that was traveling somewhere on a postal adventure so instead I wrote the love146 website for them to follow up with, and truly hoped they would do something more with the shock factor of their hometown.
Skipping forward in my story about Andrew. After a few weeks of daily adventures, new friends, new couches, new bunks, racing my first pro SBX two day competition in what seemed like a monsoon. I overshot a jump that catapulted me around 80 feet in the air according to the video and knowing where I landed. I felt the snaps, pops, and crushes in both ankles on what I thought was a perfect landing. Sleds and piggy back rides from new friends carried me off the mountain to return to Columbus to discover both ankles were crushed. I texted Andrew that I didn’t think I’d be able to make it to the hostel to pick up the package due to my somewhat crippling situation. He was very understanding and more concerned for my safety and continued to check with me as I ventured for ten months of healing, having both legs casted, and rehab at my parents.
I decided to train for the Arnold Amateur while still healing on crutches, and representing love146 was still my motivator. Andrew connected me to have a new media package and guided me along the way, working together as I met with a local clothing designer (freeclothingco) to have shirts made to raise awareness to end child sex trafficking to be worn at the Arnold Classic event. Large events like that reel in large numbers for human trafficking. It was the most amazing thing to see people cheering love146 while standing on that stage placing in the top five, seeing the well designed shirts worn with pride to make a statement that needed to be made.
Back to my Colorado trip; I thought to ask him for some reason if love146 could use me to do anything while visiting, but decided to simply enjoy the vacation with my boyfriend and meeting the friends and family he speaks so highly about and torture me with cheesecake that I wasn’t allowed to eat because I was in training. (Sshh i ate one.)
My boyfriend, Andy, also planned the Heavenfest concert that was held in Loveland, Colorado, where one of his favorite bands Icon For Hire played. As we pulled into the parking lot and read the list of an absurd amount of awesome music that was playing, the sponsors listed at the bottom included love146! Couldn’t believe they were there!
We hurried to find their booth to meet them and as we were walking I decided to send Andrew the text, knowing he was in Connecticut. Approaching their booth, “Hi, my name is Bailey and I’ve done some work for you guys over the past two years. By any chance do you know a guy named Andrew?”
Just then a man in middle of a conversation looked at me, squinted and tilted his head in disbelief that my Columbus self was in Colorado at this event. I looked at him wondering if this was the Connecticut man behind the messaging out here in the middle of Colorado, and there was no way we would both be at the same place at the same time.
The last two years flashed before my eyes as he approached me and I choked back tears, knowing he knew the pain I went through and encouraged me through the assault, bones being crushed, and exhaustion of trying to sell and deliver designed t-shirts for the Arnold. It was moments of sharing both our pains when dreams are taken away but would never ever change it for the world, and that not having those dreams meant bigger dreams that were made because of it. I learned he was a phenomenal sought out professional guitar player sitting on a multi-million dollar deal when his hand was slashed and had to be surgically reattached, losing the rockstar dream. The humility in this man, to know with all his heart he would never trade his life now for having that contract he was about to sign then.
He doesn’t try to make love146 famous because making their name popular isn’t what they are about. They are about fueling a fire to start a movement to end child sex trafficking, which makes this man even more humble and more honorable.
It was difficult to speak clearly and keep my composure at what was such a divine moment to me, because nothing happens by coincidence. He asked how I dealt with my accident to be able to move on so quickly and encouraged me beyond words. I was speechless when he told me love146 shares my story in staff meetings about my “stick-to-it-ive-ness”.
As I said, running into Andrew was not by chance, was not by coincidence, but it was directed and it was purposeful. He asked me what I was working on at the moment, and I told him about my book. We both got the chills as I told him about a specific chapter that easily relates to victims of not just human trafficking, but the victims in all of us that we portray ourselves as.
Just as he spoke of desiring to be fueling a fire to start a revolution to end child sex trafficking, God used that conversation to fuel the fire knowing my mission to complete this book.
I walked around speechless for most of the day with my mind and spirit exploding, in disbelief that we were standing in that very spot meeting in life for the first time, both very far away from home. What are the chances of that? Exactly, that isn’t a chance, but a godsend to fuel a fire within me.
Thank you Andrew for you support, encouragement, willingness, humility, and wit. I’m honored to know you throughout this journey.