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Bend nonprofit In Our Backyard preparing for ‘Linking Freedom Day’ in Vegas, ahead of Super Bowl LVIII

(Update: Adding video, comments from In Our Backyard, trafficking victim)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- In Our Backyard, a Bend-based nonprofit devoted to stopping human trafficking, is once again traveling to the Super Bowl, as it has for several years, to work with local groups and law enforcement in an effort to stop trafficking at the event.

But before the big game kicks off, In Our Backyard will be holding an event this Saturday, February 3rd to educate, mobilize and partner with the community for their 15th annual Missing Children Outreach in Vegas.

"So being somewhere where tourism is happening, the sex in the street, it's part of the attraction to go to Las Vegas," Bend office Executive Director Cheryl Csiky told us Wednesday.

For 15 years, In Our Backyard has been raising awareness and preventing human trafficking.

Every year, they travel to the city hosting the Super Bowl. Super Bowl LVIII is taking place in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday, February 11th. Vegas is known to have some of the highest human trafficking rates in the country.

"Over the past 14 years, 156 missing children have been recovered," Csiky said. "Thousands of convenience stores and gas stations have understood what the Human Trafficking Hotline is, they know how to report. Over 5,000 volunteers have joined us in these efforts, really creating hundreds of recoveries."

In Bend, IOB has 50 volunteers passing out 'Freedom' stickers to be placed inside restrooms of gas stations and stores. On them, they have a hotline number to call if you're a victim of trafficking.

Sara Perkins, a trafficking survivor who now volunteers with In Our Backyard, told NewsChannel 21,"This is a place (Vegas) where pimps will take girls to be able to show them the ins and outs of the games."

Perkins was kidnapped by a pimp after they met at her job at the Lloyd Center in Portland. "We went out on a date and -- it never was a date. He instantly took me to a 'trap house' in Portland."

Her first stop in being trafficked? Las Vegas.

She spent 2 1/2 years on the streets, before meeting someone who was able to help her escape.

Born and raised in Central Oregon, Perkins now donates her time to In Our Backyard to help trafficking victims get back on their feet, and raise awareness around the issue.

"I grew up in a wealthy family," she said. "I never grew up in poverty, and I was never in the foster care system. And so I felt like it was my duty to stand up and share my story -- that way, people can see this happens in all ways."

Last year, 16 missing children were recovered within a week of the Super Bowl in Phoenix. This Saturday, the nonprofit will hold an outreach conference, to educate the community on saving victims.

Csiky explained, "They're being de-humanized, they're being controlled, they're not in control of their money -- and really, making sure that we see them and we can help recover when they're in that really dangerous situation."

Perkins said, "This is a time of education, where we can educate people on what to do if they were to encounter this, if they were to see a missing child, just to get their faces out there."

Nevada ranks second among states with the highest rates of human trafficking in the country, according to

Plus, more than 8,000 children go missing every year in Nevada, an average of roughly 20 per day.

Here's the organization's additional details about their activities:

We are just days away from finishing human trafficking prevention together! There is still time to raise awareness! Your courage to talk about this issue mobilizes the mission for freedom! Here are three ways to educate, mobilize, and partner right now! Tell three people today!

Education-Sharing Survivor Stories!! Defying Destiny is a testament to the courageous spirit of those who triumphed over darkness and serves as a call to action for a world free of human trafficking. Visit our website at to watch the first episode of this five-part series.

Mobilize- Las Vegas Super Bowl City Host!! In January, we hope to see that freedom stickers are ordered in every state. AND If you know anyone in Nevada, invite them to the 15th Annual IOB Missing Children Outreach in the Super Bowl host City, Las Vegas. Actionable tips and recoveries will create pathways to freedom! Learn more and register HERE!

Partnership- Parents Protect Children!!! Check out our new parent corner below! Our top priority as parents is keeping our children safe. Every month, Gina will share safety tips from a parent's perspective. Join us on our journey to create a safer environment for our children.

Everyone can make a positive difference. What will you do to join the fight?

TEAM UP with IN OUR BACKYARD to Link Arms Across America in the Fight Against Human Trafficking. Participate in a one-day public awareness and outreach event in which every member of the Las Vegas community is invited to participate and make a tactile difference as the 2024 Super Bowl Host City.

Registration is free! Bring a friend; all ages are welcome.

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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