Hundreds gathered for the annual Go Blue 4 Kids breakfast to start awareness efforts during Child Abuse Prevention Month at the Holiday Inn in Liverpool.
The McMahon Child Advocacy Center (MRCAC) is encouraging people to wear pinwheel pins and plant pinwheels throughout the community to represent happy, healthy children.
This year’s breakfast keynote speaker, Dawn Schiller, a survivor of human trafficking as a teen in Hollywood, talked about long-term healing after trauma and how her life changed the first time she was sent to the streets.
Abused and trafficked on the streets by the infamous porn actor, John Holmes, she survived the gruesome Wonderland Avenue murders in 1981 and ultimately turned him into the police.
“I remember never noticing the people who would buy other people existed until I was told what to do and what to look for by my pimp. It was as if a veil lifted for me and I realized that there was a whole world out there were exploiting you women and girls and the LGBTQ community — any vulnerable population in a way that treated them like a commodity,“ Schiller told NewsChannel 9. “[They] didn’t treat them like human beings.“
MRCAC Executive Director Colleen Merced says human trafficking is more common than some might think.
“Human trafficking happens right here in Central New York. Right here in Syracuse,“ Merced said.
“We see over 100 cases a year that come through our center and each year it continues to grow, the amount of kids we’re actually being able to work with that get referrals for. It’s a huge problem here. People need to recognize what human trafficking really is and how they can help somebody if they feel like they are a victim of human trafficking.“
For more information about Schiller’s book and her journey as a survivor, click here.
To “Go Blue 4 Kids” and support awareness efforts, click here.