KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Ride2Freedom is a small group of teens, young adults and preteens who are biking across America. Their mission is to raise awareness about children who have been orphaned in China by a brutal policy of persecution and abuse that Chinese communist leaders have waged for 16 years.
Since July 20 1999, the meditative mind-body discipline known as Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, has been persecuted in China. It consists of simple, gentle exercises, meditation, and following the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. Innocent people have been arrested, detained, tortured and killed. As a result, some children of arrested Falun Gong practitioners have suddenly found themselves alone.
When Ride2Freedom rolled into Missouri, officials and their staff warmly welcomed the young riders, and praised them for their dedication. In a letter, U.S Senator Roy Blunt thanked the group for bringing their message of freedom to the citizens of his state.
At a rally for the riders, Kansas City Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo commended the teens’ valiant effort to speak up for orphans. “These children have no real voice of their own, but through this sacrifice of yours, may have a chance yet to be heard,” she said. Circo also represents Kansas City’s Fifth Council District At-Large.
Jim Kite, a city council member from Overland Park, Kansas, came to the rally with his wife, Wendy. Kite said he wasn’t there in any official capacity. He was just moved by the Ride2Freedom story.
“Before we came, we had no idea it was such an international involvement,” he said. “There are kids from over a dozen countries standing right over there, all very pleasant and very committed to their cause. I’m impressed.”
Ride2Freedom started their mission in Los Angeles on June 1. They have visited several cities across the country. Anyone who supports their cause is welcome to join them at the end of their American tour for a candlelight vigil at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on July 17. They will arrive in Washington on July 16 and join a large rally to support Falun Gong.
The riders plan to meet with President Barack Obama later this month. A few of them will fly to China. The final leg of the Ride2Freedom tour is to rescue five Falun Gong orphans and bring them to the United States.
The young people want to touch more hearts overseas, and to end the persecution of Falun Dafa.
Cat Rooney contributed to this report.