How One Couple Used Their 25th Anniversary to Make a Difference
As an organization, we're striving to raise funds year round. We realize that human trafficking is not something that only happens in December, so neither should our efforts be to stop it. Which is why when we saw a large donation come through in July (typically our "off season") we wanted to know the story behind it. And what we found was a beautiful love story -- look out Nicholas Sparks. Meet Vicki and Rick Rekedal. They recently celebrated 25 years of marriage, and used their anniversary party as a way to educate their family and friends about human trafficking. Because of this they were able to raise nearly $13,000 in a single night! I had a chance to ask them a few questions, and honestly, their story is too good not to share with you. I asked them to throw in some marriage advice too *get those tissues ready*.
Wow! 25 years of marriage (that’s as long as I’ve been alive!) Can you tell us a little bit about your love story and how you met?
We met in a Public Affairs class at Biola University, and started dating immediately after we graduated college; nine months later we were engaged. We were married July 10, 1993. We both grew up in the same neighborhood in south Minneapolis when we were little, although we didn’t meet each other until college in California. We went on three dates and then Rick bought the ring - put it in a safe deposit box - and by the following Fall we were engaged. We love camping and hiking, swing dancing, big parties and hospitality - we love it when our guest room is full.
When did you first learn about human trafficking? Was it at the same time in your relationship or did you learn about it separately?
Rick: I’ve been aware of human trafficking off and on for years, but it wasn’t until we heard about Dressember that it really started to hit home for me. Especially as the father of three girls, I couldn’t begin to imagine the sense of loss and helplessness someone stuck in human trafficking might be experiencing. I was definitely moved by it.
Vicki: I’ve been aware of human trafficking since college and am glad for the opportunity to do something about it through Dressember.
"Especially as the father of three girls, I couldn’t begin to imagine the sense of loss and helplessness someone stuck in human trafficking might be experiencing. I was definitely moved by it."
What about the issue of human trafficking made you want to take action?
Rick: For me, the thing that made me want to take action was how simple Dressember makes the process, that by wearing a dress each day you are making a clear statement about your commitment to those trapped in human trafficking. I also knew we can trust Dressember to use the funds wisely and efficiently. Although I haven’t done the dress-wearing thing yet, Vicki and all three of our daughters have. We are close friends with Sierra Barrett, one of the dress-design winners for Dressember - we had her show one of the dresses at our fundraiser party.
Vicki: As a mom of three daughters, my heart goes out to all the girls caught in trafficking. I appreciated the tangible and simple activity of wearing a dress, an activity that my girls could join in on.
"As a mom of three daughters, my heart goes out to all the girls caught in trafficking. I appreciated the tangible and simple activity of wearing a dress, an activity that my girls could join in on."
How did you find out about Dressember?
We first heard about Blythe and Dressember through our home church in Los Angeles. Vicki and our daughters all wanted to do it and it took off from there.
Why did you choose to celebrate your anniversary in this way?
We are so blessed to be in a solid, enduring marriage, and we value our close friends, neighbors and family interwoven into our lives. The night of our 25th anniversary party we hosted almost 100 people in our back yard, and to see the richness of our extended community all gathered together was truly amazing and overwhelming. Yet it was also a stark reminder that those trapped in human trafficking are not only stuck in horrible situations; they also are robbed of the love of friends and family, torn from any community they might have known. We chose to celebrate our own anniversary by asking our friends and family to give toward helping rescue those trapped in human trafficking so that they someday can also have that type of community around them.
"We chose to celebrate our own anniversary by asking our friends and family to give toward helping rescue those trapped in human trafficking so that they someday can also have that type of community around them."
It’s a strong statement when a couple advocates together. What has this experience of advocating for an end to human trafficking together been like for you?
We were blown away by the generosity and giving spirit of all the friends we invited to our party. Some of the largest gifts came from some unexpected places. But whether large or small, everyone gave from the heart. From just under 100 people we were able to raise almost $13,000 in one night.
We also wanted to set an example and model for our children this idea of giving. We wanted to intentionally do something together as husband and wife to share our union and passion to give and help others.
"We wanted to intentionally do something together as husband and wife to share our union and passion to give and help others."
Not so anti-trafficking related but...what marriage advice can you give to us?
Rick: Being married to Vicki is the best thing that has ever happened to me. To borrow a line from a movie, "she truly makes me want to be a better man." We fell in love quickly and deeply, but after 25 years it’s clearer to me now more than ever that we are in many ways still just getting started. You go through so many changes through the decades, from the time before we had kids, to raising babies, and then many of your years are tracked by school cycles and child development stages - elementary school plays; junior high drama; high school teenage years; college and now beyond, with our adult children moving up and out of the house. Each cycle of change brings out a different person in your spouse, so you are always getting to know each other again. After 25 years I feel I am really getting to know Vicki. I’m glad that even though she knows me better than anyone in the world, she still wants to be with me.
We have a couple of marriage rules we live by:
1) Keep doing new things together, so one person doesn’t become an expert over the other - you need to keep discovering and finding “new” together
2) Never, under any circumstances, joking or not, and certainly never in a fight, does anyone use the “D” word - we struck it from our vocab before we got married, and it has never once been uttered between us
3) As bad as your argument might be, you don’t get to leave the property - it’s not allowed. If you want to be childish and storm out of the room to make a point, fine - be that way - but nobody leaves the property - that is playing the abandonment card and neither of you should ever go there. It’s a power play you can’t make.
4) Finally, we value God’s word immensely. We start the day together reading God’s word and daily prayer over breakfast. Even when one of us is traveling for business, we try to call or FaceTime in at breakfast to share that time together.
5) Dark chocolate every single day. Not a lot, but some. Daily.
Vicki: I second the above. Forgiveness and a willingness to apologize are essential to keep going in marriage. Humble stepping forward in communication, when you want to run the other way is also essential to keeping the marriage thriving.
Aren't Vicki & Rick incredible!? Doesn't it make you want to watch a rom com & dive into some dark chocolate (just me?). In all sincerity, THANK YOU Vicki & Rick for the impact that you're making on girls and women around the world through the celebration of your 25th anniversary. You are an example of the type of legacy I believe we should all strive to lead -- one of generosity and passion!
This year, do something different. Take on the Dressember style challenge and pledge to wear a dress or tie every day in December. You'll challenge yourself, learn more about the issue of human trafficking and have a viable impact on those trapped in slavery around the world.
Registration opens October 1st, 2018
About the Author
Madeline considers herself a bit of a nomad, having split her time between three continents over the past few years. Now, digging her roots down in Southern California, Madeline spends her time crafting content for the Dressember campaign, doing yoga and searching the web for flight deals.