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Some 150 bicyclists will join the Syracuse Ride for Missing Children

091908bikerideLML1.JPGFile photo. Before it moved to Syracuse, the Finger Lakes Ride for Missing Children took place in Auburn. In 2008, students from Owasco Elementary School slap hands with cyclists participating in the sixth annual Finger Lakes Ride.

More pink-and-turquoise-clad bicyclists than ever will take part this year in the Syracuse Ride for Missing Children.

Last year, the ride had its most participants yet, more than 100, and their efforts brought in about $55,000 for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, ride Director Chris Arnold said. This year, about 150 riders will take part in 100-mile event Sept. 28.

Riders will stop at a half-dozen schools and cruise by four more where students will have attended assemblies on internet safety conducted by National Center specialists, Arnold said. Riders will make a couple of other stops, too.

The colors they will wear and the bicycles themselves reach back to a child who was murdered nearly 20 years ago.

Sara Anne Wood, 12, of Litchfield, was wearing turquoise shorts and a pink top and riding her bike when she went missing Aug. 18, 1993, said Dick Jordan, of New Hartford, who will ride with the Syracuse crew. Wood’s body has never been found. Lewis W. Lent Jr., of North Adams, Mass., was convicted of murdering her. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced in 1996 to 25 years to life in prison.

In 1995, said Jordan, he was among seven people who bicycled with Sara Anne’s father to Washington, D.C., to honor her memory and increase awareness of the plight of missing and exploited children. That inspired an annual bike ride for children in Utica, which Jordan helped found. This year the Utica ride drew nearly 500 riders, he said.

The Utica ride in turned inspired an annual ride in Auburn and the Finger Lakes, and when Arnold became its director a couple of years ago, he asked that it move East to Syracuse, where he thought it would reach more kids and attract more riders. This is the second year of the Syracuse ride.

Arnold, who knows how it feels to lose a child, has been part of the ride since 2003. His daughter, Paige Yeomans Arnold, died in 1994 from complications of her treatment for leukemia. Arnold is director of Paige’s Butterfly Race, which raises money to fight pediatric cancer.

“We were there when she left us,” Arnold said of his daughter. “But to be a parent of child that’s missing and not knowing where they might be and what might be happening to them, to me, that’s maddening.”

Although the money raised in the Syracuse ride goes to the national center, it will be spent for Syracuse area programming, for instance sending the specialists to local schools to talk to children, Arnold said.

Here is more information about the Syracuse Ride for Missing Children.

Contact Maureen Nolan at 470-2185, mnolan@syracuse.com or @MaureenNolanPS

Article source: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/09/more_than_100_bicyclists_will.html

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