LDS Teen Mark Tenney donated $135,000 to Operation Underground Railroad.

A Mormon teen has raised $135,000 to help the organization Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) in their fight against child sex slavery. Mark Tenney, 17, organized the Ride the Railroad biking event in July to raise funds for the cause. Tenney’s two years of efforts, over 700 hours he estimates, have paid off.

Tenney drew his inspiration from OUR founder Timothy Ballard. Two years ago Tenney was at a dinner party with Ballard. During the party, the founder spoke about the problems of sex slavery among children. Ballard spoke about his previous work with the government which introduced him to the issue. After many prayers and divine promptings, he decided to start his own organization to combat child slavery. Tenney was moved by Ballard's words and knew he had to do something to help. Ever since, the teen has been looking for ways in which to contribute to the organization's cause.

Opportunity soon came knocking at his door. Coming from a family of cyclists, Tenney's family often went on riding trips. In 2015, the family was planning on making a biking trip when Tenney had an idea. He wondered if a charity bike event would be able to help Operation Underground Railroad. "That same feeling that motivated him [Ballard] to help these kids out sort of touched me and my family as well, and so that’s why we decided to do something big for them." Within no time, the family was actively involved in planning the charity event.

Though themselves expert riders, Tenney and his family knew little about organizing a biking event. Undaunted, however, the family still embarked on this journey, praying and keeping their faith in God. Tenney says difficulties did arise throughout the two years they worked, which their strong faith in Jesus helped them to overcome. Tenney worked to find sponsors for the event and recruit riders to participate. He himself trained hard so he could ride in the event.

The event saw 45 participants, racing along 430 miles of the Southern California coast. Though there were some issues during the event, they were overcome with faith and help from others. "We were extremely blessed, our prayers were answered," Tenney said. 

For the teen, the event was not just a fundraiser, but a spiritual journey that has deepened his faith in God.

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