A quick video I took and shared on Facebook as we were getting ready to leave the hotel for opening ceremonies and to see our RMC family...
Video taken as the riders came in to Bellamy Schools on Friday morning - the cold, rain, or coming storm didn't stop or slow them down...Thank you for riding!
In case any of the riders wanted to know what was written on the paper, here was my original message of hope and encouragement. Love you all and know you were covered in prayer, not just rain yesterday as you persevered!
"Hello. I know the planning for the ride starts shortly after the previous ends so I’d like to start by thanking the men, women, and children that have dedicated hours and sacrificed family time to make this day a reality. Thank you.
To the families of the missing, thank you for your love, understanding, and friendship. You are blessings I count throughout the year and look forward to seeing each May. I would say it is like a “family reunion” each May yet wouldn’t want anyone to misconstrue my word usage to think we celebrate this time together. Instead, it’s an annual gathering with family we cherish and an opportunity to share changes in each of our missing loved one’s cases.
Last month, our family and community gathered to remember my sister, Heidi Allen. Heidi disappeared while working alone on Easter Sunday from the small town of New Haven, New York…twenty years ago. This has been the most difficult anniversary to date, for me personally. Two decades later, we still don’t know where Heidi is.
The positive side of this was nearly two-hundred people joined us. I wanted to remember Heidi and have people leave encouraged, one way I found to do this was by inviting our local law enforcement to do finger printing with the children in attendance and our very own NCMEC came to share about their “Take 25” campaign and increase awareness. Similar to your visits to the schools, we need to encourage and inspire the kiddos and their parents – education is key.
For some of you, this is your first ride and you might only see the physical aspect and drain of this day but this is more than a day on your bicycle, this is FAMILY.
April 3, 2014…the 20th anniversary of my sister’s kidnapping. A terrible and difficult day yet one that showered me with love, with a lot of love from THIS family, all of you. Your texts, private messages on FB, your posts, and phone calls…priceless gifts to me every year. To know you remembered Heidi and our family in such a personal way emphasized what I already knew, you are an extension of family.
Later in the evening as I checked into to FB, your generosity and love overwhelmed me again as I see the training ride on April 3 was dedicated to my sister. But it was so much more than that – as I see our friend Clare holding a sign for Heidi with tears rolling down her cheeks and Mr. Dick Jordan standing at her side.
As if this wasn’t enough, I looked up to scan the room during the community gathering and tears instantly filled my eyes as I saw Mr. John Nabors walking through the door. As he wrapped me in a hug, he said, “We love you. I’m here on behalf of the entire RMC.” Thank you all so much.
For the veteran riders, you know this isn’t a ride – it’s a mission of hope on wheels. For you new riders, you will experience an aspect of life, hope, and love you’ve never seen or witnessed before today.
Welcome to the family from our family (motion to the families of the missing section) to yours (motion to all of them). May each inverted decline remind you that life isn’t always easy yet it’s possible to not only reach the top but to sore with the wind on your back when you get to the other side. Never give up, we haven’t and won’t. You inspire us and we’ll be cheering you on from start to finish, and in the months to come. The actual ride is one day, the mission is eternal.
"RFMC 2014 What rain?
What hail? What wind?
Children are missing.
Children need to know
how to stay safe.
Children need to come home.
5 year rider, 6th ride
Note: Photo of the downpour is from the New York State Police's Facebook page - thank you Nancy for letting me know.
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year,
but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place.
If I quit, however, it lasts forever. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up,
stays with me. So when I feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with?”
― Lance Armstrong, It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life
This year's ride was a testimony of this ~ they did not quit but persevered!
They didn't give up but pushed harder.
They never appeared defeated but instead...inspired.
The Ride for Missing Children riders remind the families of the missing, pain is temporary and to never quit - thank you for encouraging and inspiring us every year but especially this year.
One rider shared this yesterday afternoon, thank you Anne Marie Ambrose for your permission to share this with others.
Anne Marie writes:
"4pm, and we have been 'done' for hours but we were never really 'done'. From the beginning of the day, I thought 'Take it all in, you all worked for this day. Watch all the new riders, watch the families, this is a powerful day' all the while we peeked up at the sky and begged the rain to hold off. We didn't stand a chance.
We got to Bellamy school and I ran into Mary Lyall. She was encouraging us and I said 'Mary, you are going through FAR worse than we are!'. Another family member with a green shirt sitting at the table, as we were literally shivering said to me 'You don't know how much what you are doing means to me'. I talked to him a while and the conversation ended.
Tony Artessa then asked a room full of people 'Who's coming?" and we ALL screamed that we were IN. My heart was in but my head was so far into a warm, dry, safe spot that I was conflicted. I then thought of Mary and that gentle man who softly said to me 'You don't know how much what you are doing means to me'.
I looked at my friends and we hugged. We would get each other through this. We saddled up and rode in some of the toughest weather conditions we've ever ridden in. I thought of those 2 moments and rode to New Hartford. It wasn't until The Ring of Hope was playing and we did a tribute that my tears started flowing (um, I don't cry). Big tears.
I looked around me and was sad the day was ending. Sad for all the families who need answers and loved ones brought home! I love everyone in that room as much as life. I love this organization and the awareness it raises. I love my husband for joining this group with me 5 years ago."