Founder and Director, Freedom Ride Project
Elisabeth (Beth) Gegner is passionate about cycling, the outdoors and nurturing friendships around the globe. Having grown up in Southern France, she remembers the Tour de France coming through her hometown when she was a little girl. But most of all, she has a heart for bringing hope, justice, healing, and a fresh start to victims of slavery and oppression.
Her initial exposure to human trafficking occurred in the late 1990s, while volunteering at an orphanage in Northern Thailand. As she worked with the children, she was shocked to find out that several had been victims of sex trafficking.
Since that time, this tragedy has weighed heavy on her heart. In 2014, after surviving a potentially fatal bike crash with a car, the miracle of her survival triggered in her a powerful sense of calling to make a difference. So in August 2015, Beth decided to ride her bike 1700 miles from Laguna Beach, California to Bend, Oregon – about 100 miles a day – to raise awareness and to fund a safe house for girls in Pattaya, Thailand. In sharing about the cause, she witnessed a significant interest and desire from people along the way to learn more and become involved in their own communities.
These conversations, as well as those with Lisa Bowerman, who rode with her the last three days of the journey, inspired The Freedom Ride 2016. One might say that this ride was born on the bike, as Beth and Lisa climbed over beautiful McKenzie Pass into Bend.
Besides directing the Freedom Ride 2016, Beth holds a Masters in Organizational Behavior and has served in various leadership roles over the past 20+ years, advising businesses on improving their performance. She lives in Laguna Beach, California.
Co-founder and Bend Director, Freedom Ride Project
My name is Elizabeth Bowerman; my friends know me as Lisa. I am an avid cyclist, emergency room nurse, wife and mom of 2 grown children. I am passionate about my faith, my relationships, and having a meaningful impact in people’s lives.
In 2015, I met Beth through a mutual dear friend, and had the privilege of riding several days of the freedom ride with her. I was inspired by her story, and how she was raising awareness for human trafficking. The more I learned about the topic, the more I realized how many misconceptions I had. Not only is human trafficking a global problem, but it is happening in my own backyard, and I can do something to stop it.
As an ER nurse, I now realize that I can make a difference in my healthcare community. At least 89% of human trafficking victims come through an ER or urgent care seeking medical help during the time they are trafficked. Few, if any victims are recovered during that health care visit. There is a great opportunity to educate health care providers on how to recognize these victims and provide them the help they desperately need.
Riding over McKinsey pass with Beth, it became clear to me that I could combine my passion for cycling and my heart for victims of this abuse, to raise awareness about the issue in different communities and to teach others how they, too, can become involved in their own backyard.
I live in Bend Oregon and am excited to be the 2016 Co Director of the Freedom ride. I can’t wait to make a difference one pedalstroke at a time!
Board Member, Freedom Ride Project
Earl is an accomplished international business manager. Earl has worked in semiconductor, medical device, aviation and renewable energy industries. Earl’s real passion is to serve others before he takes a leadership role.
He has established his own non-profit ministries serving foster families, and sponsors 58 families in a weekly food distribution program in Central Oregon for the last 5 years. Earl is driven to make a difference in human trafficking and has partnered with his wife Lisa to disrupt this atrocity on our children.