Reflections from the Ride for Missing Children 2017
The 21st Annual Ride for Missing Children kicked off as it always does from the Troop D State Police barracks in Oneida. Riders were then on their way to the ultimate finish line at the New Hartford Rec Center. The whole journey...took just 86 windy miles.
As it always does, the opening ceremony held just before the start of the ride brought tears to the eyes of everyone in attendance. Part of the emotional roller coaster of the day is the presence of family members and loved ones of some of the children that were never found. Those stories are difficult to listen to, but the courage they show in sharing that story is nothing short of inspirational.
This year, the ride was dedicated to Jacob Wetterling. Joshua disappeared in the late 80s and his killer just recently confessed to the crime after all this time and led authorities to Joshua's remains. Patty Wetterling is Jacob's mother and she stood strong in front of the nearly 500 riders and talked about what the National Center for Missing Children meant to her family. It was a fantastic reminder to all who rode, why they were doing so. It was her words and strength that was in my mind as portions of the course became extremely difficult.
During one of the legs of the Ride bikers were facing a strong, 25 mph headwind on the old Route 5s from Barringer Road Elementary to MVCC. The force of the gusts were enough to make a nearly 13 mile stretch seem like 30. The pain in the legs of myself and other riders around me was nothing compared to the pain that Patty probably feels in her heart every day. It was her strength, the words of Dusty Wood (brother of Sara Ann Wood), and others throughout the day that reminded us why we do this, no matter how difficult. The Ride's slogan is one that couldn't be better. It's simply..."Making Our Children Safer...One Child At A Time." That is the goal and that is the mission. That is why we ride.
I thank all of the people who came out to cheer us on. I also especially want to thank law enforcement for escorting us throughout the Mohawk Valley, keeping us safe along the way. It was a truly amazing experience and even though it was difficult at times, it is nothing compared to the pain a parent has to endure realizing their child is missing and in some cases may never be seen again. Hopefully our efforts and the money raised by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children - Mohawk Valley Branch will help bring as many children home as possible.
The video below is photo and drone video coverage by my amazing stepfather Peter Angelini.