Cyclists ride for missing children

Organization set out to educate kids on abduction prevention

GATES, N.Y. (WROC-TV) - The seventeenth annual bike ride -- "Missing Children" -- kicked off Friday morning at the Total Sports Experience in Gates. 

Hundreds of cyclists ride between 50 to 100 miles to raise money for programs that educate students about preventing abduction and sexual exploitation. 

Cyclists flooded the streets suited up in a signature pink and teal jersey in memory of a missing 12-year-old girl. 

Sara Anne Wood was wearing pink and teal riding her bicycle when she was abducted and murdered back in the mid-90s. 

It was this horrific crime that was the start of the annual bike ride. Executive Director Ed Suk with the National Center for Missing Exploited Children says he has dedicated his career to working with victimized kids and bringing them home. 

Many of the riders, like Lynn Bianca Murphy, personalized their jerseys with a picture of a missing child.

"Every year the ride gets easier, but the stories are equally hard every year," said Murphy. "Because it's a child, an adult, at some level an infant, it's just horrifying."

Murphy rides ahead of the pack making a stop at five different elementary schools. And for every stop there are tons of people cheering and refreshments on hand for the cyclists. 

Suk and his group visit schools two weeks before the ride to educate children on prevention abduction.

"The elementary school kids are going to get information with our online characters in short two-minute videos that are very gentle, not very threatening," said Suk."The older kids in high school -- we get a bit more daring. We have kids talking with other kids about their experiences."

All the proceeds from this event stay local to help fund safety programs.

Up to 300 cyclists participated and raised almost $143,000 this year.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's tip line is 1-800-THE LOST. 

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