The Pittsburgh Steelers organization is a gracious one, and it always has been. I started the Steelers Give Back series a few months ago following the fallout of the national anthem controversy to show fans the good that players and the team are doing throughout the community.
I talked about Alejandro Villanueva’s generosity, Project Bundle Up and the organization donating a lot of money to both Puerto Rico and Mexico City relief efforts. But their latest venture to help others trumps them all, simply because of the severity of the situation.
Mike Tomlin announced on Wednesday that the team is partnering with Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) to help shed light on child trafficking both in the United States and beyond.
Normally, I don’t share this much information from another website, but in this instance, it’s worth everyone reading this to get a complete grasp on what O.U.R. is facing every day.
For more about the Steelers and O.U.R., check out the description and quotes via the Steelers official website:
Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) is a group of former law enforcement and Navy Seals whose sole purpose is to rescue children from the horrors of sex trafficking. While this crime might be more rampant in other nations abroad, it’s also prevalent right here in the United States.
“They rescue kids worldwide in the sex trafficking and child-slave industry,” explained Tomlin. “It really captured our attention. We got behind. This is something that’s easy to get behind. As a football group we are uniquely aligned. We get an opportunity to use our platform and get aligned behind this. This is something that everybody within our group and every man—to a man—got behind. I look forward to further involvement moving forward.”
Operation Underground Railroad deploys their operators around the world and in the United States on undercover missions to save the children, rescuing them from the torturous lives they’ve been forced into and bringing them back to safety.
“This is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises on the planet,” said Tim Ballard, founder of O.U.R. “There are millions of children forced into the commercial sex trade here in the U.S. and outside. We utilize every mechanism possible to infiltrate these places where children are being sold. The United States is the highest consumer of child pornography. We are the problem. We are the demand.”
Ballard said that 250,000 children are forced into sex trafficking in the United States, and the U.S. State Department estimates 10,000 child-victims are brought into this country as well. Those numbers are eye-opening, and through the relationship with the Steelers, more eyes can be opened, communicating the dimensions of this problem to a whole new audience. That’s exactly what’s needed to help eradicate this scourge. You can’t get rid of a problem if you don’t know—or don’t want to believe—it exists.
“What a blessing when Coach Tomlin called us earlier this year and said he was interested in helping us further our mission,” said Ballard. “It was a miracle call out of the blue. What a blessing. It’s an awesome partnership and we hope to use this opportunity to save more people, more kids.
“The response from the team has been overwhelming. They are on board and it’s inspiring to see. We hope this brings a furthering of the movement. That more people get involved, more people rise up. We want the whole world to rise up and say we won’t let kids be forced into slavery anymore.”
You might wonder how you can help and what you can do. This can be the simplest of things. In the world in which we’re now living, it’s common to hear the advice, “If you see something, say something.” Well, that’s exactly the case here. Thankfully, you’ll never going to witness the actual horrors endured by these young victims. But at times, signs emerge that something’s wrong—things you might notice that just seem unusual, and that’s when you have to speak up.
“Awareness is the biggest problem,” said Ballard. “It’s not something you want to look at. It’s horrific. These are children. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to it. As long as we do that, this problem is never going to go away. We need to get the word out and we can think of no one better than the Pittsburgh Steelers help us do that.”
“If you see something is ‘off’ or you look at a kid who doesn’t seem to belong to that adult, there’s something inside human beings that can sense when something is wrong. If you have this experience, call the police. It could lead to something bigger.”
“People have to get involved, people have stand up and see the problem and make others aware of it. For the Steelers’ fan base to see it’s a real problem, they can stand up and be a voice for the voiceless, providing leads to help us get these kids out.”
For more information, you can watch the following video from the Steelers’ official headquarters: Steelers and O.U.R. join forces
You can also gain more information from the O.U.R. official website right HERE.