A human trafficking and missing children nonprofit, launched this summer, is having its first fundraiser in Broward County later this week.
The event, scheduled for Oct. 25 at the Bull Market in Fort Lauderdale, is for Global Children’s Rescue.
John Rode, a founder of GCR and a former undercover narcotics agent, said he and his co-founders have been working on rescues for some time, though the group formally debuted in July.
“Over the past year we’ve dealt with like 30 to 40 cases,” he said. “The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children doesn’t do anything; they have a fancy website and that’s about it.”
Utilizing sources like Backpage — a search engine public safety officials have said is notorious for prostitution services – GCR investigators go to locations advertised in an attempt to find victims of human trafficking.
“We just need one cooperative victim to bust these cases. You’ll usually get one who will tell you where they operate and the names of the bosses,” said Rode.
Once a brothel is discovered, GCR investigators contact local law enforcement.
“Some police departments – not all – are incredibly proactive,” he said. “I used to work in law enforcement and I know how they work.”
The case of Sophie Reeder, a 15-year-old girl from Fort Lauderdale, has been a priority for the GCR. She has been missing since May 20.
Reeder is believed to be a victim of human trafficking, said Rode, but there are no leads on her location. Complicating the rescue efforts, Reeder does not qualify for an Amber Alert because she was reported as a runaway in the past.
GCR is actively working on her case. They have placed two billboards with Reeder’s photograph in Naples. Nicole Twist, Reeder’s mother, is expected to attend the fundraiser.
John Todora, the owner of the Bull Market, is no stranger to fundraising events.
“Oh yeah, we hold [fundraisers] constantly for any charity that needs a place to hold it,” Todora said. “Over the summer we hold them like two or three times a month. In the fall we try to even do two a week.”
Tickets are $20, include a drink and appetizer and can be purchased through Eventbrite.com. All proceeds will go to the GCR.
Future fundraisers are planned at Seasons 52, Tap 42, and The Capitole Grill.
Ultimately, Rode said, funds raised will help GCR’s mission of increasing public awareness on the issue.