LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – In about a week, a team of eight cyclists from Lancaster County will try to make it from California to Maryland as quickly as they can. 

Brad Ortenzi, a former Ephrata Police detective, will lead the team as they take on the challenge of The Race Across America. The race has been called “the world’s toughest bike race”.

“The training has been pretty intense,” Ortenzi said. “It’s been painful.”

Ortezni retired early to dedicate his life to raise awareness of problems with childhood sex trafficking. He is using the race to further his cause.

“Thinking about the kids we could rescue and help, that really keeps us based in why we’re doing what we’re doing,” Ortenzi said. “The motto for our team is their freedom is our fuel.”

The Race Across America is 3,000 miles and travels through 12 states.

Matt Lapp, another member of the relay team, says joining Ortenzi’s team has opened his eyes to human trafficking.

“I have five children myself and when I think of them being in that situation, it just tugs at my heart,” Lapp said. 

You can follow the team when the race starts on June 15 by clicking here.