Sep 29, 2011 Erin Wisneski Uncategorized
Escorted by police vehicles, 120 bicyclists hit Route 48 last Friday morning as they started a 100-mile trek around Onondaga County visiting local schools in an effort to prevent child abductions.
The riders were participating in the first ever Syracuse Ride for Missing Children, which brings child sexual exploitation prevention training to local schools and raises funds for the local Upstate NY office of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
The riders stopped at six schools and rode by three others as part of the program. Children from the schools also received Internet safety training from an NCMEC Education Specialist.
“The kids at the stops [were] outside waiting for us as we [approached] the schools,” said Ride Director Chris Arnold, who also organizes Paige’s Butterfly Run. “Unlike most charity bike rides, where participants ride at their own pace and arrive ‘at the finish’ at a time that suits them, we ride two-by-two in a long line.”
The Syracuse ride was a move for the event, which since 2003 was held in the Finger Lakes region.
“The Finger Lakes Ride focused mostly on the Auburn area and westward, but did come to Baldwinsville several times including last year,” Arnold said. “I rode in each of those rides, and stepped in as ride director for 2011. I felt that we should move the ride eastward towards Syracuse in order to serve a larger population and to increase ridership. The organizing committee and NCMEC agreed, so the Syracuse Ride was born.”
Arnold wasn’t the only Baldwinsville person stepping up to help the effort. Pete Ramin, owner of the CNY Family Sports Centre, donated the use of his facilities for the ride, where opening and closing ceremonies were held, and Mark Perrin, owner of the Bikery on Van Buren Road, supported the ride with repair services on the day of the event, a service he also provided during the Finger Lakes rides.
The Syracuse Ride for Missing Children raised more than $50,000 as of Sept. 28 with more donations expected. According to Arnold, this is twice the amount raised by the previous ride.
“We saw a lot of kids, who also got prevention education training, so it was a very successful day,” he added.
The ride 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, some in our own community. 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 2010, NCMEC/NY assisted in the recovery 1,682 children through poster distribution and case assistance among other efforts. For more information, visit rideformissingchildren.org/syracuse.
Erin Wisneski is the editor of the Baldwinsville Messenger. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.