Every year, Skaneateles Police Chief Lloyd Perkins mounts his bicycle, dons his helmet and prepares, along with dozens of other cyclists, to ride 100 miles on the path of awareness.
The cause? To raise money and awareness for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization formed to provide services nationwide for families and professionals in the prevention of abducted, endangered and sexually exploited children.
"It's a great cause. This organization does so much for law enforcement when a child goes missing," Perkins said Friday after getting off his bike at Skaneateles Middle School.
In its seventh year, the ride remains just that -- a ride, not a race, said Ed Suk, executive director for the center's New York regional office based in Rochester.
"The difference here is we ride as a group," Suk said.
The group started this year's 100-mile Ride for Missing Children early Friday morning in Auburn, made its way to Baldwinsville, then to Port Byron, Skaneateles and finally ended once again in Auburn.
At each stop, the riders were flanked by New York State Police, Cayuga County Sheriff's Department and Auburn Police Department vehicles and greeted by elementary and middle school children. In Skaneateles, many children made signs welcoming the riders and prepared to learn about personal safety and awareness from Clicky, the organization's mascot for Internet safety.
Suk said the group started their day very early and had scheduled stops every 20 miles or so. At each break, the brief safety program made for a visual way of enforcing the safety messages -- complete with music, singing and dancing.
While riders generally come from the Finger Lakes region for the local ride, they also traveled from Rochester and the Buffalo area as well, Suk said.
As a fundraiser, each rider is charged with raising a minimum of $300 in pledges prior to the ride.