What started as a small group of bicyclists that hoped to raise awareness for the plight of one missing child has grown into the biggest annual fundraiser for The National Center For Missing & Exploited Children – New York/Mohawk Valley Office (NCMEC-NY/MV).
In 1995, a group of 7 men rode their bicycles from Utica, New York to Washington, D.C. in order to raise awareness about the plight of missing children and to bring a message of safety to the people they met along the way. They arrived on the Capitol steps on May 25th, the first National Missing Children's Day. Two years later, inspired by that first Ride, a group of 43 riders rode their bicycles 100 miles from Albany, NY to Utica, NY with the same message of safety and awareness. Thus began the Ride For Missing Children.
The purpose of the Ride For Missing Children (The Ride) is:
The Ride is a one-day, 100-mile bike ride that stops at schools along our route to bring a message of safety. All participating Riders make a vow to raise a minimum of $500 and to support the mission and goals of The Ride and NCMEC-NY/MV.
To get ready for the approximate 100-mile bike ride, preparations and training happen year round. There are monthly meetings for Riders and Volunteers to understand the importance of why we Ride, and conduct Ride business like having the right cycling apparel, learning how to prepare both mentally and physically, as well as garner fundraising tips.
What participants learn immediately is that although they are going to ride their bikes approximately 100 miles in one day, this event is "not about a bike ride". It is about raising awareness of the plight of missing children, and spreading a message of abduction prevention and of hope – that this group will never stop searching for your missing child. It is about a mission "to make our children safer …one child at a time". The bicycles are simply a vehicle to help carry the message along. We always Ride on the 3rd Friday in May as our commemoration to National Missing Children's Day (5/25).
The Ride has grown steadily each year with over 450 riders in 2012. There are now five Rides for Missing Children in New York State – The Ride in Utica is called The Ride for Missing Children-Central New York. We also have The Ride for Missing Children-Rochester, The Ride for Missing Children-Syracuse, The Ride For Missing Children-Buffalo, and The Ride for Missing Children-Capital District in Albany. In 2010, The Ride For Missing Children expanded our reach to extend beyond New York State's borders to Fort Smith, AK.
Many people ask why we do not begin and end the Ride from the same place. This is a conscious decision made by the Ride Steering Committee to represent an open path, rather than a closed loop. This open path signifies that our work is never done. That we will always have hope and will never stop searching for your missing child.
This event is as emotionally draining as it is physical, but so rewarding. It is about raising awareness of what we can do to help stop child predators and bring missing kids back to somewhere safe. It raises needed funds to help distribute posters of missing children and support the mission of NCMEC-NY/MV. Each Rider wears a pin of a missing child that they are Riding for. It becomes very personal.
Our local Center: NCMEC-NY/MV creates and distributes posters of missing children Nationally and into Mexico and Canada. We are the only tier-two geographically targeted poster distribution center in the U.S.