A group of people walking 1,500 miles from Key West to Tallahassee pushed its way through Jacksonville on Saturday to encourage people to talk about sex abuse and lobby for a law to help prosecute offenders.
Leading the pack is Lauren Book, who was sexually abused by a nanny. She started the annual trek in 2010.
"I was abused from the time I was 11 years old until I was 16," Book said during last year's walk. "So I know all too well the trauma survivors face, and have to heal from."
Book is determined to make a difference with every step she takes. At the end of the more than a month-long walk, she'll lobby the Legislature for a bill that would allow evidence of prior sexual crimes to be admitted at trial, provide relocation assistance for victims, require HIV testing for offenders and include Internet safety in health education courses.
In addition to raising awareness, Book and her organization, LaurensKids.org, are raising money for programs to help victims.
"It's been a wonderful journey so far," Book said. "We've created a lot of healing and hope for recovery."
Thousands have joined Lauren at various points in her journey. Sometimes the people want to help the cause; sometimes it is to help themselves heal.
Book and her volunteers are not deterred by the long-distances they have to travel. Friday they walked from St. Johns County to the Avenues Mall in Jacksonville. Saturday they walked from the shopping center to Everbank Field downtown.
"We can make a difference, and it's all about changing the things we can change," Book said.