H undreds of bicyclists were greeted like rock stars at Westmoreland Road Elementary School, while riding throughout the Mohawk Valley today to raise money and awareness for missing and exploited children.
Olivia Simone is in the fifth grade at Westmoreland Road where they stopped to see the kids as they continued for 90 miles around the Mohawk Valley. "We were amazed and it was awesome that we got to hold the flag over there, it was pretty cool," says Simone.
Liz Korrie was riding to help raise $400,000 while cycling today. "It's a great feeling, it's exhilarating. These children really respect what we're doing and they pump us up and they make us realize that this is a great cause and it's really important, what we're doing is important," says Korrie.
The Ride for Missing Children started out small, with only seven cyclists in 1995. The event was organized two years after Sara Anne Wood was abducted while riding her bicycle in Herkimer County.
Today this ride includes four other rides throughout the state, all raising money for the printing and distribution of missing child posters which are put up in neighborhoods across Central New York and across the country, including Cleveland, OH.
Paula Flisnik has family cycling in today's ride. She was at the school cheering on all the riders along with the kids. "The posters for those children that were taken in Cleveland came from the Utica area, came from the ride for missing children, so it's such a wonderful event, not only for the community but for nationwide," says Flisnik.
Betsy Hemmel was among the many volunteers who were helping to make this stop along the route a smooth one. "It was very satisfying to know that the volunteers here in the Utica area were able to be a part of bringing missing children home, especially the girls in Ohio," says Hemmel.
The cyclists used the Cleveland case, where after ten years three missing girls were found as motivation to continue riding toward the hope that one day they will bring each missing child home, to their loving families.