Andy McCoy and Rocky Vest of Des Moines decided to bike from the state capital to stay at a cabin in Okoboji with a group of friends in the summer of 2011.

The following year, their ride became about much more.

The cyclists saw their journey, now called the Okoboji 200, as a way to help raise funds and bring awareness about sex trafficking prevention. They contacted Lighthouse Ministries and began accepting goodwill donations to support the organization that fights human trafficking in Nepal.

This Friday their mission continues, as Okoboji 200 riders will begin their 200-mile trip from Des Moines to Preservation Plaza in Arnolds Park.

"We thought we could move the needle, even if it was just a little bit," McCoy said. "It really gives us a chance to give back and a reason to keep doing our trek every year."

Riders will leave Des Moines at 5 a.m. and plan to arrive in Arnolds Park at 6 p.m. McCoy, co-founder of the event, hopes to keep a 18 mph pace, stopping for 10-minute breaks every 30-40 miles. At the halfway mark, the cyclists will eat lunch at the Lake City Country Club.

Okoboji 200 had nine cyclists and collected $3,500 in its inaugural year, 2012. McCoy said 61 people will ride this year with a fundraising goal of $100,000. The organization currently has received around $65,000.

In 2015, Okoboji 200 partnered with Dorothy's House, a shelter for women who escaped sex trafficking. McCoy said the money donated allows the women to regain a sense of self worth.

"These women get beat down and brainwashed," McCoy said. "They don't think there is any way to escape. It's the only life they know, because a lot of them are thrust into the life at a young age. Dorothy's House extracts them and starts the healing process. It gives them food, clothes, education and life skills to rejoin society."

Rev. Clint Loveall of First Presbyterian Church in Spirit Lake participated in the event in 2015 and will again this year. He said he wanted to get involved because of his two daughters.

"The idea of these girls being sold into prostitution and slavery is just appalling to me," Loveall said. "If I could help with that at any level, even if its just as simple as pedaling a bike, it was attractive to me."

Loveall said Iowa serves as a major exchange state for sex traffickers. He hopes that this event will inspire more people in the Lakes area to find a cause of their own.

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