Cross-country tour pedals into city
Ed Smart and Ahmad Rivazfar, parents of child abduction and abuse victims, are riding to protect children from predators.
Members of the Surviving Parents Coalition, Smart and Rivazfar left New York on bicycles on Aug. 21 and have traveled through 12 states on their awareness campaign, “Ride for Their Lives.”
On the final leg of the ride, which will end Sept. 22 in Los Angeles, the riders will make a brief stopover in Colfax at noon on Tuesday.
Mark Lunsford will join them, riding his motorcycle in solidarity for the duration of the trip.
In Sacramento, they will be joined by Mark and Cindy Sconce. They are the parents of Courtney Hannah Sconce, who at age 12, was kidnapped from their Rancho Cordova neighborhood in 2000. Her body was later found along the Feather River in Sutter County.
“We welcome anybody who would like to join and help us in our efforts,” Rivazfar said.
The men are riding on behalf of parents of children who were abducted, sexually assaulted, murdered, recovered or are still missing.
Smart and Rivazfar became acquainted while advocating for the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which was signed into law in 2006.
They soon realized that a group of voices could have a stronger impact on legislation than individual voices.
One year later, they formed the Surviving Parents Coalition with the goal of preventing predatory crimes through awareness, education and
legislation. While parent members are the driving force behind the coalition’s legislative initiatives, friends and family members are also welcome to join.
Rivazfar, an avid bicyclist, first proposed the cross-country ride to coalition members as a way to raise awareness about their efforts.
“They thought the old guy had gone crazy,” he said. “Ed (Smart) said he would ride with me. The ride itself was just a means for us to reach out to people.”
Old guys on bicycles doesn’t attract much attention, he continued, but “drastic times require drastic measures.”
Their primary goal is make people aware of what can be done to protect children and eradicate predatory crimes throughout the U.S.
Rivazfar said they have been talking to people about four legislative issues.
While the Adam Walsh Act was signed into law four years ago, only three states (Ohio, Delaware and Florida) have complied, he pointed out. The act sets minimum standards for a national sex offender’s registration and notification system.
The coalition is also advocating for DNA collection on felony arrests, not just on convictions. Currently, only 24 states have passed some form of DNA on felony arrest legislation.
They also want people to understand the Protect Our Children Act of 2008, which provides resources for the investigation of child pornography and exploitation cases.
Finally, they’ve developed “Not ONE More Child,” a child safety education initiative that educates and empowers children to recognize, avoid, resist and escape dangerous situations and violence, including bullying, assault, abuse and abduction.
“The coalition is determined to cultivate a national movement for child protection, one community and one child at a time,” he concluded.
For more information, visit SPCoaliition.org,
His then 14-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was kidnapped from her bedroom in 2002. She was found nine months later, living just a few miles from her home with her captors, Brian David Mitchell and Wands Lleen Barzee.
Rivazfar’s daughters, Sayeh, then 8 and Sarah, age 6, were taken from their home in 1988 by his ex-wife’s boyfriend. He drove them to a remote area, raped them, cut their throats and left them to die. Sayeh survived; Sara did not.
Good to Know
What: Ed Smart and Ahmad Rizafar, parents of child abduction and abuse victims
When: Noon on Tuesday, Sept. 14
Where: Corner of Main and Grass Valley streets in Colfax