Many college graduates aren’t sure what they want to do after college. But Adam Gianforte had a plan. After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in linguistics, he knew he wanted to ride a unicycle down the continent for 2700 miles to fight human trafficking. He raised $11,000 for IJM along the way. We caught up with him after he finished his ride.
Tell me about the moment you learned about IJM and its work.
During my junior year of college, I had a friend who took on a fundraising challenge for IJM. I helped him out with publicity and he was really passionate about it. The more I heard about it and the severity of the problem, the more I wanted to help. I was looking for an opportunity to raise more awareness and doing this unicycle ride after graduation seemed like a cool idea.
How did people respond when you told them you were riding on behalf of the cause of human trafficking?
One time, this car drove up next to me and asked me what I was doing and I gave them cards with my information while I was riding. They drove off, but I saw them later on and they gave me money they had pooled together! People just wanted to support me, they didn’t know much sometimes about the cause, but they thought it was so cool that they wanted to help.
Most memorable part of the trip?
People I met—the most important thing you ever encounter is people around you. I met this guy, Woody, in Montana and he invited me to a bar. He shared his life experiences with me. We started talking about God. I had a chance to talk to him and see where he was with God and I gave him a Bible and it was a really cool interaction. We still keep in touch.
I find that having a unicycle breaks down social barriers and allows me to have deeper conversations. People see me on a unicycle and want to learn more and it’s easier to get past the initial social niceties. Sometimes I was running into people who were going through a tough time. Some people I just prayed with.
What was really hard about the trip?
I thought it was going to be hard to be alone that long but it wasn’t that bad. I enjoyed the solitude. There was this time I ran out of water and had to drink my own urine. But for the most part, whenever I asked God for provision, He provided.
Overall, I thought very few people would know about human trafficking. I was surprised that a good many did know about it!
What did you learn from your trip? How are you different after this trip?
My faith was strengthened because I had to rely on God for the most basic needs. I had to trust that He would provide. It’s easier to see God working and providing when you’re not in civilization. Out in the wilderness, it’s much easier to see Him provide.
I also learned to be more intentional with interactions with people. When you only see one or two people a day, those interactions become super significant. And think, God what do you want me to get from this interaction? I have a much closer connection with God now too.
What’s next for you?
I’m heading to either Chicago or New York to pursue acting. I’d like to tell good stories through acting. I’d love to show redemption and self-sacrificial love through acting. Jesus spoke in parables and stories! If my pursuits are not kingdom oriented, then they’re self-oriented and that’s a waste of time.
Any advice for folks who want to make a difference but aren’t sure how?
I would tell them that it’s about little decisions. The process for me starting this trip—it wasn’t one big decision. I heard about the route and I thought it would be cool to ride. Then I looked into whether it was feasible. It wasn’t until I was up in car on the way to Canada did I realize I was finally doing it. It doesn’t take one big decision—it’s just moving in the right direction, toward whatever kind of person you want to be or thing you want to accomplish. I’m just a regular guy.
International Justice Mission is the world’s largest international anti-slavery organization, working to end modern-day slavery, human trafficking and other forms of violence against the poor by rescuing and restoring victims, restraining perpetrators, and transforming broken public justice systems. Learn more at www.ijm.org.