While certainly a spectacle that drew in intrigued crowds, the message is somber, to remember children who were too vulnerable or exploited, and even went missing. Michael Hallisey / Spotlight News
BETHLEHEM — A dozen police cruisers from New York State, Bethlehem, Guilderland and Albany County escorted a caravan of more than 100 bicyclists as they embarked on a 100-mile journey on Friday, Sept. 21.
The 100-mile ride visited local elementary schools to raise public awareness of the plight of all missing and exploited children and the need for child safety education.
The Ride for Missing Children also raises money to support the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s New York regional office’s ongoing work.
Hundreds of bicyclists joined rides in Rochester, Buffalo, Utica, Albany and Syracuse, raising funds along the way. Each registered rider wears a pin of a missing child for who they are riding.
Hamagrael parents, teachers and friends rode as a school team. The bicyclists pedaled 100 miles, two-by-two, passing through several communities along the way.
Hamagreal Elementary was one of several locations where riders stopped to hydrate and refuel.
“It’s a great feeling to be part of this team,” said Hamagrael principal Dave Ksanznak. “Our riders have worked hard and our school community has been so supportive. This is a great way to show our students the entire community is invested in keeping them safe and in turn, to remind them to make safe practices part of their everyday routines.”
The Hamagrael team, which included 15 cyclists, raised more than $5,000 prior to Friday’s ride.
On Thursday, Sept. 20, the day before the bicyclists arrived at the school, Hamagrael students attended assemblies to learn more about personal safety. Students in kindergarten through grade 2 are learning about personal safety and students in grades 3 through 5 are learning about internet safety.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.