Vernon’s Ryan Phillips (right) was joined by two survivors and nine other cyclists on a recent bike ride from Vietnam to the Angkor Wat Temple (one of the Seven Wonders of the World) to help raise money to eradicate human trafficking and sex slavery.

Vernon’s Ryan Phillips (right) was joined by two survivors and nine other cyclists on a recent bike ride from Vietnam to the Angkor Wat Temple (one of the Seven Wonders of the World) to help raise money to eradicate human trafficking and sex slavery.

Ride raises $60,000 to save girls from sex slavery

Vernon's Ryan Phillips cycled 565 kms in Vietnam and helped raise funds for Somaly Mam Foundation

He’s used two wheels to help raise money for a foundation that wants to rid the world of human trafficking and sex slavery.

Now Ryan Phillips of Vernon is contemplating using only his legs and feet for the same cause.

Phillips, 37, just completed a 565-kilometre bike ride from Saigon, Vietnam, to the Angkor Wat temple – one of the Seven Wonders of the World – and helped raise $60,000 for the Somaly Mam Foundation, an organization that saves girls who, like Mam, have gone through the pain and atrocities of being sold into brothels.

“I’m considering running across Cambodia for women that have been abused in North America and Cambodia in September,” said Phillips. “I know it could raise a lot of awareness and generate a lot of sustainable funds to make a bigger dent into this cause. So for now I’m planning on it.”

Phillips and 12 other cyclists endured 40-degree heat on their recent ride. They visited shelters where human trafficking and sex slavery survivors lived and are now learning vocational skills to reintegrate into society.

It was the second time Phillips participated in the ride. This year, he said, his eyes were wide open to the cause, aided by having two survivors cycling with him.

“They are now pillars of strength helping in the cause, fighting for change with their own personal adversities, making the cause stronger and powerful,” said Phillips. “I became so attached to the suffering that I feel it’s my duty as a male to be a voice for these people and any other woman or man that has struggled with adversities and personal setbacks.”

Phillips speaks from experience.

A former hockey player with the Vernon Vipers, and pro player in the Central Hockey League with the Wichita Heat, Phillips’ world came crashing down when he was arrested in 2000 and convicted for conspiracy to import marijuana. He spent more than 500 days in prison.

Abolishing human trafficking and sex slavery is important to Phillips because he has his own daughter to think about.

“She comes from a lot of love but for many girls in the world, they become commodities, sold into the business by members of their own family many times,” he said. “My duty as a male is to stand up, be an example and show that there are many good men in the world.”

Donations to Phillips’ cause can still be made online at www.simplygiving.com.