The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children handled 20,500 cases of missing children last year. That's why hundreds of Western New York cyclists geared up at New Era Field for a 100-mile bike ride.
Scott Berne was abducted by his mother following his parents divorce. He was nine years old while his parents fought for custody. Berne's father was granted custody. During his mother's first unsupervised visit, she kidnapped Scott and his younger brother, as a way to get back at Scott's father.
"I was extremely brainwashed, to the point where I believed my father was dead," says Scott of his mother's influence on him. He says his mother also burned down his house and hired hit men to kill his father.
In the period of two years, Scott, his brother and his mother moved through five different countries and lived at 13 different addresses. He was found after a babysitter saw his photo in an issue of the Ladies Home Journal.
The Ride for Missing Children aims to raise awareness of the thousands of children that go missing every single year, just like Scott.
Nearly 150 cyclists will ride 100 miles through Erie County, stopping at schools to offer safety tips for children.
The riders will start and end at New Era Field, stopping at Elmwood Village Charter School, Hoover Elementary, Doge Elementary, St. Mary's Elementary, Ellicott Elementary and Hamburg Town Park.
"When we raise money here in our community, it stays here. What we focus on in Buffalo is prevention education," says Kathy Gust, Program Director at the Buffalo Chapter of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Cyclists all wear a name badge with the photo of a missing child on their jersey.
Last year, riders raised more than $50,000 for education programs in Western New York.