NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Nashville nonprofit is celebrating its one-year anniversary after helping dozens of human trafficking survivors escape their abusers with plane rides at no-cost to them. 

For the past 12 months, Freedom Aviation Network has helped transport 65 trafficking survivors along with their advocates.  

For co-founder and chief operating officer, Stephanie Lamar, the mission hits close to home. 

“I have a personal story of when I was young, and I really needed to be rescued out of my situation,” Lamar said. “And adults just come in and help children and we try to look away; they don’t really want to deal with it, and so if I have the opportunity as an adult to step in and to help someone and pull them out, I’m going to do that.” 

For the past year, she’s put her piloting skills toward helping survivors get hundreds of miles away from their abusers so they aren’t revictimized.  

Lamar started Freedom Aviation Network along with Executive Director Jared Miller, who began the process of getting his pilots license to also help these survivors.   

“It’s truly been overwhelming to see how quickly this has grown and how much, not only aviation, but law enforcement and the anti-trafficking world in general has really rallied around this organization. 

So far, the network of 128 volunteer pilots has helped make 44 flights possible. All planes, fuel, equipment, and time of the pilots have been donated. They’ve even seen long trips with multiple victims where pilots rented bigger planes to pull off the save. 

“One time we got a note from a survivor where she said, ‘You allowed me to reunite with my family two weeks before my father died, and we were able to make amends right before he passed away,’” Miller recalled. 

For anyone still trapped in the dark world of trafficking, Lamar wants them to know there is always a way out.  

“Part of human trafficking is just that we’re dehumanizing someone, but that is not the case; everyone has worth in this world, and they deserve to be shown that love and know that they’re special,” Lamar said.  

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Although Freedom Aviation Network aimed to begin by helping victims in and around Tennessee, their reach has expanded across the country. Within the organization’s five-year mark, Miller would like to see the non-profit go international. 

Lamar and Miller are currently in need of more volunteer pilots, as well as administrative help. If you’d like to get involved or would like more information on flights, you can visit their website here.