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Ride for Missing Children highlights students' safety education program

The roar of children could be heard from blocks away as Reynolds Elementary students welcomed the Finger Lakes Ride for Missing Children.

Reynolds was the first stop of last Friday's 100-mile route, which began in Auburn and later made stops at Port Byron Elementary, Skaneateles Middle School, Seward Elementary and Hillside Children's Center (both in Auburn).

"The ride is not a race, but a team fundraising effort, and it's quite a sight to behold," said Kelly Cary, Baldwinsville's information officer.

As the ride approached Reynolds, more than 100 bicyclists traveled two-by-two with a police escort complete with flashing lights and sirens along Idlewood Drive in Village Green. As children glimpsed the riders between the houses blocking their view, they're excitement increased and their cheering got louder. Cyclists high-fived students as they rode past before taking a 15-minute break with the children then continuing on to their next destination.

According to its web site (fingerlakesride.org), the ride stops at designated schools where the "arrival is the highlight of a safety education program that has been attended by the children of each school." The Finger Lakes Ride for Missing Children is sponsored by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children/New York and raises funds to support prevention education programs and to remember all missing children.

More than 2,000 children are reported missing in the United States each day. For most families, this is only a brief scare as the child turns up in a few minutes or hours. But for some, the nightmare of a missing child becomes a grim reality. NCMEC's mission is to help recover missing children, protect all children from sexual exploitation and assist in the prevention of these crimes.

In addition to stopping at Reynolds, four Baldwinsville residents also participated in the ride -- Sue Bertrand, Ellen Genung, Joe Lauko and Chris Arnold.

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