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Ride for Missing Children raises money and awareness

Earlier this month three Ohio women were rescued after being held captive for 10 years, reigniting hope for thousands of families, who have a missing child. Friday, nearly 1,000 people in Central New York spread that message of hope at the annual Ride for Missing Children.
Oneida (WSYR-TV) - Earlier this month three Ohio women were rescued after being held captive for 10 years, reigniting hope for thousands of families, who have a missing child.

Friday, nearly 1,000 people in Central New York spread that message of hope at the annual Ride for Missing Children.

Alicia Kozakiewicz was 13 years old when a predator lured her from her Pittsburgh home and locked her in his basement. She was abused for 4 days.

She says her missing person poster is what saved her.

Kozakiewicz said, “He was broadcasting himself abusing me to people online and a person came forward because he saw my missing poster, and he contacted the FBI and that was what rescued me.”

The poster came from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Utica.

Kozakiewicz joined hundreds at the Ride for Missing Children, including Rich Racioppa.  "This is my 11th ride, I have three kids, it's the type of thing you never want to see happen. I remember when Sarah Ann Wood went missing; you want to do anything you can to help out that cause,” Racioppa said.

The event grows every year. This year about 480 riders will go 90 miles, stopping along the way at schools there kids line the streets and cheer them on.

Wendy Fical, with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said, “We remind our kids to always check first, take a friend, let the parents know where they are.”

That advice is personal for kindergarten teacher Jill Downs, who was riding to not only riding to protect her students, but to honor her family.

“My aunt was actually abducted when she was in college, so we raise awareness to prevent that,” Downs said.

The money raised from the event pays for poster distribution across the United States.

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