by Leonardo Quevedo

Car and motorcycle enthusiasts from Columbia and around Missouri descended upon Columbia First Nazarene Church on Saturday, October 16 for the third annual ComoNaz Car, Truck & Bike Show, an event which raised funds for the Stop Human Trafficking Coalition of Central Missouri.

Originally planned to be held in the summer, the show was delayed this year due to concerns over COVID-19. Pat Garcia, the lead pastor at ComoNaz Church, helped organize Saturday’s event.

“We normally do a summerfest event, but with COVID things kind of changed for us a little bit,” said Pastor Garcia. “We’ve really been networking with the Stop Human Trafficking Coalition of Central Missouri, and we thought ‘Well, let’s put something together.’ Anything we raise will help benefit that organization.”

Music from the 50s and 60s played from loud speakers as attendees admired the vehicles and chatted with fellow enthusiasts. Several participants from across the state brought their cars and bikes to be judged for a chance to win trophies. 

Keith Oliver, a native of Jefferson City, was one of the participants at Saturday’s show. As a life-long car aficionado, he brought his restored 1971 Buick Skylark to be judged.

“I bought it about a year ago in Iowa. It’s been restored all the way from the frame up,” said Keith. “I love going to car shows.”

Nanette Ward, a founding member of the Stop Human Trafficking Coalition of Central Missouri and a current board member, was present at the event distributing materials and talking with attendees. She says this event was an opportunity to spread awareness of an important issue.

“It’s always great when you have a different kind of event where people who might not otherwise be able to become aware that there’s human trafficking right here in Columbia and throughout mid-Missouri,” Nanette said. “It’s the second largest criminal enterprise in the world, second only to drug trafficking. And it’s also the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world.”

Nanette’s organization provides education related to human trafficking as well as resources for victims of trafficking in need of assistance. Their work has helped several survivors over the years, including Christina Rodriguez, who came to Saturday’s event.

“I’ve known [Nanette] since 2015. She’s a god-send angel,” said Cristina. “Not only did they save me, but they stayed helping me. They make it to where I never have to lay on my back to make money again.”

To learn more about the services provided by the Stop Human Trafficking Coalition of Central Missouri, visit their website at stophumantraffickingmo.com. If you or someone you know is being trafficked, call the Stop Human Trafficking Coalition’s Mid-Missouri helpline at (866) 590-5959.

Edited by Ryan Cohen