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One day, at age 55, I said to myself, I’m going to race a car. I knew nothing about cars, but I had to go do it.
By sharing the cost with a co-driver, I was able to join the 2012 Carrera Panamericana, a seven-day, 2,000-mile rally race through Mexico. It was an extreme experience, with danger at every turn, but it changed my life.
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The following year, I bought a 1956 Porsche 356 A and entered the Carrera as the head of my own team — and won first in class. As a female driver of a vintage Porsche, I was an anomaly. The more races my team and I podiumed, the more I wondered how we could use the attention to effect change in the world.
We came up with the idea of putting the car and team through extreme challenges on each of the seven continents, to raise funds and fight for a cause. But which cause?
I happened to meet an FBI agent who investigated child pornography and child sex trafficking. He told me horrifying stories that I couldn’t unhear. I thought, This is such a difficult subject, but it’s what I have to do.
We created a nonprofit and have supported 13 groups that fight human trafficking and restore its victims. We’ve raised more than $700,000 toward an initial goal of $1 million.
What I’ve learned is that when you conquer your fears, you find strength you didn’t know you had. And you’re capable of doing incredible things.
Denver resident Renée Brinkerhoff, 66, founded the nonprofit Valkyrie Gives in 2019.