A Southern Utah nonprofit is working to help survivors of human trafficking turn the trauma of their experiences into strength through the sport of rowing. 

St. George resident Amie Ellis founded the nonprofit Save the Next Girl after her daughter was reported missing two years ago. 

“It was to say the least the absolute worst experience that I think any parent can go through,” said Ellis. 

When Ellis learned her daughter was a victim of human trafficking, she turned to rowing at her gym in St. George to cope. 

Now, two years after her daughter was found, Ellis hosts regular rowing fundraisers to rescue as many victims of the crime as she can. She said it costs on average $4,000 to rescue a victim. 

“That’s why we row,” Ellis said. “I can go through a little bit of discomfort to fight against this.” 

Ellis will host a 24-hour rowing event April 26-27 with proceeds going towards organizations that search for and rescue victims of human trafficking, such as SERT Ministries

She has brought together several hundred rowers from across the world to participate, and she said she hopes they will take action themselves. 

“A girl goes missing constantly,” co-owner of Maxed Out Performance Tara Olsen said. “I’m sharing constantly I feel, and I’m not going to stop sharing.” 

Ellis said that while many believe human trafficking is a global concern, they don’t tend to realize it happens in their own communities. 

The National Human Trafficking hotline reported 5,000 cases of human trafficking in 2018, with 35 of those cases in Utah.

On Tuesday, Save the Next Girl will host its third community education conference with a panel of speakers who can answer questions the public may have about human trafficking. The conference will be from 7-9 p.m. at the Electric Theater Center. 

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