Seventeen years ago seven men rode their bicycles nearly four hundred miles from Utica to Washington D.C. That ride has turned into an annual bike ride that attracts over four hundred riders every year. And these riders will experience a roller coaster of emotions. Chairman Frank Williams says, "The emotions the riders are feeling today are the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. We come here to schools and see beautiful children, we are parents who are searching desperately for their children, so again the highest highs to the lowest lows." First year rider Chris McNally adds, "Completely ready for the physical aspect, I just wasn't ready for the emotional aspect. You know just the feelings of watching the parents of the children and hearing from the kids that have been found and brought back to their families is just a roller coaster emotionally."
The ride invites parents and family members of children that have gone missing. Dawn Drexel's daughter Brittanee went missing three years ago in Myrtle Beach and she says the search for her daughter will continue. She says the help events like this offers is invaluable. Dawn says, "It means a lot for a family, a family always has hope that their child is still out there, but they also at the same time want to keep other children safe too so no family ever has to endure what we endure every single day."
The ride makes multiple stops at area schools throughout the hundred mile trek and riders says seeing the children is a great reminder why they are riding. First year rider Devin Sonney says, "It's just amazing when you hear some of the stories and some of the recovered children and some of the family members, knowing them personally and having family experiences myself, it's all day long just crying but its great to be out there a see the kids and know that everything you do can help them be safe in the future." Williams added, "The work that we do here began with the dedication of this community to the search of one missing child we now extend it to missing children all over this country."