This is a story about my community.
It tells the details. Twenty years later, I still can feel the terror that took over the hearts of our community. Though I didn’t know her or the family, my brother and his family live one house away from the church where her father was Pastor. She was kidnapped about a half mile from my brother’s house.
My younger sisters were visiting at the time, one also 13, looked a lot like Sara. It could so easily have been her. But it was Sara. It still makes me shiver.
Right now we live about seven minutes away from the site. For her family and friends, it is beyond heartbreaking. It is beyond cruel…and it is beyond our understanding. But this story is about my community. Today is the Ride for Missing Children where members of the larger community ride just under 100 miles in one day (today) to spread awareness about abduction prevention and those who are still missing. Each biker wears a picture of someone who is missing and they ride for them.
They make stops along the way and pass silent tributes.
|One stop is at the school that Sara went to, also my nephew’s school. Balloons are sent up in remembrance and hope while playing “Somewhere Out There”
What happened 20 years ago was nothing short of devastating to all who live here and we still hold her family in our hearts. But, instead of living in bitterness, the people of this community redefined who we would be and how we would remember. It propelled us forward to help others by opening what eventually grew to be the Mohawk Valley Chapter of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The goal was for our community to not be victims and to not let another child be a victim. Sara could not be saved, but it is unknown how many have been saved because of their efforts. We went down to cheer them in, I am proud to say I know several of the riders and some I call friends. I told my daughter’s to say “thank you”my youngest asked, why?…it was simple, “because they do this with you in mind.”Making our children safe….ONE CHILD AT A TIME! is the motto. No matter the weather, that motto carries each of the riders along.
God Bless all those who protect our children.