LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Think about what you are most passionate about? What if you could use what you love to do as a way to make a difference? Robbie Ross, Jr. made a name for himself at playing high school baseball in Lexington. He was drafted right out of school. But for Ross, it’s the opportunities off the diamond that have him and his wife traveling halfway around the world on a mission to help stop a terrible trade.
For the last five years, Robbie Ross has seen his ups and downs on the diamond, playing professional baseball. The former Lexington Christian standout has made a name for himself pitching in the majors, but it's what he and his wife are doing off the field that might surprise you.
"We were taught young to love people, serve people and we just always felt like that's where we wanted to be," said Robbie Ross.
Ross and his wife Brittany make Lexington home. They are high school sweethearts, married in 2010 and unattached, it seems, from professional fame.
"I didn't even know he played baseball, so being married to a professional athlete was very foreign to me," said Brittany Ross.
In 2008 Ross was drafted to the Rangers, and most recently has been with the Boston Red Sox. Chasing the dream of playing professionally has led Robbie and Brittany as a couple to find a new passion in life together.
"I think Robbie and I are both people that everything kind of broke out hearts, we had dabbled in different areas of working with the homeless communities in Lexington, but we were really looking for something that just undid our soul," said Brittany Ross.
Brittany found it, and it was baseball that led her there. It was a trip to Uganda with other MLB wives that opened her eyes to something that profoundly touched her heart.
"That's where I first learned about human trafficking, I had no idea that slavery still existed in the world today," said Brittany Ross.
According to the Polaris Project, human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide. The buying and selling of human lives, many times children, is rampant in countries like India. The dark reality of trafficking was shocking.
"I felt like for me personally it was like, I could not imagine that, especially any person no matter what the age, no matter who they are being put into that situation. It kind of just broke us down to the core," said Robbie Ross.
"It's the fastest growing industry in the world aside from the sale of drugs. So how can Robbie and I do our part to stop it, a lot of times it feels hopeless," said Brittany Ross.
They created Mission 108, a nonprofit dedicated to anti-trafficking efforts in places like India. They partner with a safe house that aids in prevention, awareness, and aftercare once girls are rescued.
"We don't want to go in the country in India and just be proud Americans and tell them how to do the work, but we really focus on empowering them and learning from each other. That way when we leave they are doing the work and they are the ones on the front lines," said Brittany Ross.
Brittany and Robbie have immersed themselves in the work, traveling with what they call their tribe in the offseason to witness firsthand the difference they are making in the lives of the girls saved.
"Being and working in the industry and with people who are stopping it, you just realize when you look at one girl who has been rescued and she matters and then it becomes this trickledown effect," said Brittany Ross.
Stateside the Ross' raise money to support the safe house in India, it cost about $48,000 a year. Last year through a golf scramble and dinner they raised $30,000, a labor of love for a simple reason the Ross' say.
“We didn't do anything about the problem because we didn't know about the problem and once we did know you can't un-know," said Brittany Ross.
They are a couple guided by faith. Robbie Ross, now a free agent does not know what's next in baseball. What he does know is that he and Brittany are committed to making a difference.
"No matter where we are or what we are in we are ultimately going to be pushing our hearts towards helping out as much as we can in Indian and trying to help stateside," said Robbie Ross.
Mission 108 also partners with Refuge for Women in central Kentucky to focus on anti-human trafficking efforts here. For more information on Mission 108 and their upcoming dinner and golf scramble this Sunday and Monday just click on the links provided.