SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — On Friday, The Ride For Missing Children made its last stop in Syracuse, NY.
Over a 100 bikers united at Sport Center 481 to ride through Syracuse, making stops at five nearby schools. The ride supports and creates awareness for abducted, exploited, and missing children.
Anyone can donate to the cause, and support the riders and who they’re riding for. The event takes place in four other different Central New York locations, including Rochester, Buffalo, Utica and Albany.
I attended this year’s event in Syracuse with Kienan Dixon, and the organizer for the Syracuse installment of the event, James Sleeper, was elated by the amount of support this year’s event was getting.
Sleeper is well known in the community, and has been organizing the event for years.
He says events like these are important because it is imperative that kids learn how to use the internet safely.
“Part of our big push is education of the internet world,” Sleeper says. “How to be safe, how to be a good internet user, and how to have trust in adults and people to talk to so no one goes missing.”
Online chat rooms and social media are the primary source of child abductions and bullying. That is the biggest problem Sleeper is looking to solve.
“We’re getting reports of children as young as 13 saying that they can’t sleep because they’re up every hour checking their phone if someone’s saying something bad about them. The cyberbullying is really awful what’s going on in the schools.”
Executive Director Ed Suk for the CNY division of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was also at the event. He says, “Our goal is to make certain that kids are navigating that online life in a safe way. So, we talk to kids about safety online, we talk with them about cyberbullying.”
But not only do those who organize the event take child safety very seriously, but the cyclists themselves feel like the event makes such a strong impact on the kids. Sydney Bheuler, who’s riding for Jeremy Swain says, “It’s life changing, it really is. Because no matter where you look it’s educating our children, it’s educating our families, and it’s educating our community.”
More important than anything, the kids show their appreciation for the cyclists when they stop by. “We’re kinda the party part of the whole thing,” Sleeper says. “The children will love us , they’ll be out having a great time. Cheer us on…”
If you want to donate to the cause, or learn more information, visit therideformissingchildren.com to find out how you can help.