Sep 02, 2014 Tami Scott Uncategorized
More than 125 cyclists are on board for this year’s Syracuse Ride for Missing Children, sponsored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), to be held on Friday, Sept. 26. It begins and ends at the CNY Family Sports Center on Jones Road in the town of Van Buren.
The fundraising event is a one-day, 100-mile ride that brings participants to various schools in the city of Syracuse and surrounding communities. Its purpose is threefold: to bring internet safety education to elementary and middle school-aged children; to remind the public of the plight of missing children everywhere and to raise funds (each person must raise at least $300 to participate) to support the fieldwork of the Upstate New York office of NCMEC.
“Every school we stop at, every school we do a ride-by at — about a week before [the event], has had an assembly put on by a NCMEC educator about internet safety,” said ride director Chris Arnold, of Baldwinsville. “Kids are on the internet and so are the sexual predators. [The kids learn] how to be on the internet, but not to give away too much information about themselves because people are out there trying to find them and groom them for their own bad purposes. Unfortunately, kids find themselves in a world that preys upon them pretty quickly.”
Cyclists ride in two-by-two formation to remind children of the buddy system, to always travel with a friend, and are escorted the entire way by local law enforcement officers.
Baldwinsville resident Erin Scala is an active participant of NCMEC; this is her third ride.
“I got involved because I started cycling and was encouraged to give it a shot,” she said. “It sounded like an amazing cause and just hearing that 200 riders ride side-by-side for 100 miles to raise awareness for the cause made it easy to join.”
Scala, who is blind and rides on a tandem bike with a friend, said one of the biggest highlights for her is pulling into the schools for the kids.
“Even though I cannot see the smiles on the kids’ faces, just hearing the cheers, screams and excitement, I know the kids are going crazy and love seeing all of us,” she said. “It is also amazing being [part of] a huge team, all there for the same cause, all riding the same distance, the same pace … The speeches ahead of time at the CNY Family Sports Center are always inspiring and encouraging and remind all of us why we are there. It is honestly an unforgettable experience to participate in the ride.”
For those interested, there is still time to sign up. New riders, however, are required to partake in two orientation rides prior to the event. Those rides are held on Saturday and Sunday mornings at The Bikery on Van Buren Road in Baldwinsville. Returning riders are also welcome to attend.
“The focus of these rides is to talk about what the day of the event is like and once we get rolling, how to ride together safely,” Arnold said. “Most charity rides, everybody starts at the same time and you finish when you finish. We are being lead by a police car, riding two-by-two at a particular pace. That entails some skills that may not be owned by people who haven’t ridden in a group before. It’s not like riding by yourself.”
Support vehicles and volunteers are also on hand if someone gets a flat tire, has an accident or is not feeling well.
For more information, including the opportunity to register, go to rideformissingchildren.org/syracuse/.