Weekly Feature



2017-05-25 / Local News

11th Ride for Missing Children preaches abduction prevention at five area schools

by ALAN RIZZO Reporter


Riding to raise awareness of abduction prevention, David Capretto, chairman of the Buffalo office of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, stops to greet students on Friday at St. Mary’s Elementary in Lancaster. The visit was one of five that riders made at local schools during the 11th annual Ride Around WNY for Missing Children. Riding to raise awareness of abduction prevention, David Capretto, chairman of the Buffalo office of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, stops to greet students on Friday at St. Mary’s Elementary in Lancaster. The visit was one of five that riders made at local schools during the 11th annual Ride Around WNY for Missing Children. On their 11th annual Ride Around WNY for Missing Children, organizers and participants were happy to be broken records about how to protect against childhood abductions, because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

More than 150 riders biked 100 miles around the region on Friday to raise awareness on that topic, as well as $75,000 for the Buffalo office of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Their trek began and ended at New Era Field in Orchard Park.

On their journey, they stopped at schools in Buffalo, Kenmore, Amherst, Lancaster and Orchard Park to deliver safety messages on abduction prevention to students.

At approximately 1 p.m. the bicyclists arrived at St. Mary’s Elementary in Lancaster and were greeted by an ecstatic crowd of students, who held up signs of support and stuck out their hands to get a high-five from riders and from “Clicky,” NCMEC’s internet safety “spokes robot.”

Among the riders greeting students was David Capretto, chairman of the NCMEC’s Buffalo office, who said this year’s ride, like its predecessors, is all about prevention.

“We’re raising awareness and trying to get word out to parents, teachers, law enforcement and children about the dangers out there,” he said, explaining that his motivation for riding each year comes from Adam Walsh, son of “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh.

The boy was kidnapped and murdered in 1981, after he went missing during an outing to a Florida mall with his mother.

“It’s a tough story to take,” Capretto said. “There wasn’t a [National Center for Missing & Exploited Children]. There wasn’t anyone that had a one-stop way of getting the word out.”

He said it was Walsh’s murder that motivated creation of the NCMEC, an organization that strives to recover children who go missing and to provide prevention services and internet safety education programs in communities nationwide.

Like Capretto, Kathy Gust, program director for the Buffalo office, said the ride’s focus is on prevention and a message that she felt students need to hear repeatedly throughout childhood and adolescence.

“I always tell parents when I do parent presentations, if you talk to your child when they’re in second grade, you need to talk to them in third grade and fourth grade and fifth grade, until they’re in college, because we still have kids that are in college that go missing,” she said, noting that many who participate in the ride are not parents who have lost children to abduction, but those who are concerned that they could.

To learn more about the Ride Around WNY for Missing Children, visit www.rideformissingchildrenbuffalo.org/.

To learn more about NCMEC, visit www.missingkids.com.

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