DENVER (CBS4) - The FBI Denver office presented a 17 year old with an award on Wednesday for her work advocating on behalf of human trafficking victims by donating to nonprofits that provide them services. Kyra Dooley has asked for her birthday and Christmas gifts to be donations for good causes since she was nine. She chose this cause recently after learning about someone close to her who was targeted by a sex crime predator.
"I know what I'm doing is making an impact, but I didn't think it was making that big of an impact," she told CBS4 on Wednesday. "It was kind of a shock that my story had gotten to the FBI that was really crazy to me."
The FBI invited Dooley to their office after learning about the work she was doing to help victims. This year she started taking donations for Sarah's Home and Covered Colorado. Dooley shared with those gathered at the event about a family friend they learned was a victim of human trafficking.
"My main goal right now is just to spread as much awareness as possible and have that conversation with as many people as possible," she said. "Anyone can be a victim and anyone can be a target."
To encourage her on the good work she is already doing, the FBI invited members of law enforcement from various metro area agencies to speak to her about the work they do fighting human trafficking. They also asked advocates working for nonprofits to speak about their organizations.
"It's incredible to be that young voice and kind of being a mentor for those out there," said Anne Darr, an FBI Victims Specialist.
The speakers gave Dooley a better understanding of the entire process of investigating sex crimes and prosecuting suspects from start to finish. They also shared the impact their work has on victims, including the resources funded by Dooley's charity work.
"What's really impressive of Kyra's story is the age in which she is able to support this effort," said Brandon Brehm, the Human Trafficking Program Director at the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance "The more people we have engaged, the better off we will be."
Dooley has started her senior year in high school and plans to attend college next year. While she is inspired about the possible careers in this field, she remains focused on the immediate work to helping more victims come forward and prevent someone from being targeted.
"One small act of kindness can make somebody's entire day, or change someone's entire life," she said. "I think it's really important to do that as much as possible."
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