More than 2,000 children are reported missing every day. But thanks to the work of law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 96 percent are recovered. Friday was the third annual Syracuse Ride for Missing Children. Our Katie Gibas took part in a portion of the ride and brings us their message.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It's a powerful sight. Hundreds of riders pedal through Central New York to raise awareness about missing and exploited children.
For Sayeh Rivazfar, the ride's mission hits all too close to home. When she was eight, she and her six-year-old sister, Sarah, were abducted by their mother's ex-boyfriend. She was raped and her sister was killed.
"I only survived by playing dead and reaching out for help. The only thought in my mind was I have to make sure Sarah didn't die in vain and that this monster was put behind bars and punished for what he had done and could no longer do it to anybody else," said Sayeh Rivazfar, a NYS Trooper and abduction survivor.
Rivazfar shared her story to kick off the Syracuse Ride for Missing Children. And when she's not in uniform, she's in a jersey participating.
"The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is one of the key components of my growth and recovery. Being able to help be a part of this center was a huge asset. I was able to give back to a community, to other victims and help them know they're not alone," said Rivazfar.
Riders, guided by law enforcement, pedal from Van Buren on a 100 mile tour of Central New York, stopping at several schools along the way.
"It's the most amazing thing. Those kids will bring a simile to anyone's face. It will bring you hope. It will push you that extra mile you need," said Rivazfar.
Pam Weaver, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children NY Community Education Director, added, "We hope that anyone that sees these riders and sees these shirts, and our shirts say 'keeping our children safer, one child at a time,' that they'll think about having conversations with their kids about safety. That they'll think about going to our missing kids website or going to our net smarts website so they know how to talk to their kids about these safety issues."
Advocates say the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is more important now than ever, as internet safety becomes a growing concern.
"Not only are there issues with online predators, but there's cycberbullying. There's sexting, lots of things that are getting kids into dangerous situations and getting them into trouble. So we really need to talk about all those things with our children," said Weaver.
The money raised from the ride goes toward teaching kids about real world safety, including always checking with an adult before going anywhere, using the buddy system and getting out of a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable.
The money raised by riders stays local and goes to providing education programs throughout the state.
For more details, head to www.rideformissingchildren.org.