UTICA — The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has adapted it’s 2020 Ride for Missing Children in order to continue its mission to raise funds and build awareness amidst restrictions placed on physical gatherings due to COVID-19.
The organization’s traditional event, which consists of six bike rides that take place annually in the spring and fall, has been transformed into “Miles for Hope,” a month-long, nationwide awareness and fundraising mission to support the center and its work.
This September, participants from across the U.S. can help raise awareness and funds while biking, running, walking, skating, swimming, kayaking — even skipping, say organizers.
“The Ride for Missing Children has always been about more than a bicycle ride.” said Ed Suk, executive director, of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children-New York.
“This event is about raising awareness and spreading a message of safety education and of hope to the families of missing and exploited children. This event is about raising critical funds to support our cause and with children spending more time online, away from schools and outside activities, the need is greater than ever,” the agency executive director added.
Whether participating as an individual or on a team, it’s easy to get involved with Miles for Hope, organizers said, and a time to focus on safety with your family, group or school.
Participants are encouraged to take time throughout September to reinforce safety with the children in their lives.
The center offers free resources for families and educators, including lessons, discussion guides, videos among others resources to help facilitate discussions and lessons around personal safety and internet safety.
According to Jody Wheet, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children-New York/Mohawk Valley’s program director, the timing is right.
“In light of COVID -19, children are spending more time with technology and with school starting up again, likely with a virtual component, safety conversations are as important as ever,” Wheet said. “The Miles for Hope daily tips and Real Tip videos will help families and schools to easily reinforce prevention messages,” she added.
Registration is open, and there is no fee to join Miles for Hope.
“This year will be very different, but it will be meaningful and we’re so excited to get more people involved,” Wheet said. “Even though we’ll be participating separately everyone is bound together by a singular mission — to make our children safer, one child at a time.”
For information, call 315-732-7233 or go online to www.missingkids.org/milesforhope.