The Ride for Missing and Exploited Children is taking on a new direction this year because of the pandemic. Participants can use the entire month of September to walk, swim, kayak, and of course bike to raise awareness. The Program Director for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Jody Wheet, says this year’s theme 'Miles for Hope' is making an impact internationally.
"When we reimagined this it’s not just a Utica based event or a New York State event. We’ve gone national with it. So we have participants from I think we’re up to 45 States. 44-45 States. We have a participant in Switzerland, we have a participant in South Korea, yeah, so we’ve got about just shy of 1400 people registered right now."
It’s a virtual start to the school year, so there weren’t any students to welcome riders to the William Floyd Elementary School, but Principal Kristin Casab and the Staff took the time to show their support.
"I certainly remember that day with Sara Ann Wood. I know it’s a very emotional event. It’s just wonderful and I’m so glad that I was here today and my staff is here today to support this."
Miles for Hope Shepard Gary Plunkett carries a picture of Sara Ann Wood in his back pocket, and is riding for Maddox Lawrence who was murdered by his father. He feels it’s important to support the families of those who have closure, and those who may never get it.
"It’s important to never forget, and the Maddox family has become part of the ride family…like I said even though we know she’s gone."
The Governor’s pandemic concerns shut down the Center for Missing and Exploited Children back in March, and the center noticed a reduction in recoveries from posters not being distributed. They’ve recently reopened and Jody Wheet says in just a short time they're seeing results.
"In 6 days we sent out roughly 18 thousand posters, and our recoveries have already started going up."
The majority of the money raised from the Ride for Missing and Exploited Children goes towards posters sent out all over the Country Making our children safer…one child at a time.
For more information on how you can help or to register for Miles for Hope: missingkids.org/milesforhope