Ed Smart and Ahmar Rivazfar, who have both experienced the nightmare of having a child abducted, stopped at the Colfax school to share their message.
Wearing jerseys sporting the slogan “Not One More Child,” the two fathers are riding bicycles across the U.S. in an effort to raise awareness about child safety.
Their mission is to keep other families from experiencing the pain they have experienced.
In 2002, Smart’s 14-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was kidnapped from her bedroom. She was returned home nine months later.
Rivafar’s 6-year-old daughter, Sara,. was brutally raped and murdered 22 years ago by his ex-wife’s boyfriend. His other daughter, then 8, was also brutalized and left to die, but survived.
“We are here to talk about being part of RADkids, which stands for Resist Aggression
Defensively,” Smart told students, parents and teachers. “Part of the safe message is let kids know that no one has the right to hurt you, no matter who it is. You have the right to defend yourself. The final point is that sometimes bad things happen in life and it is not your fault.”
Along with encouraging the students to be safe, Smart and Rivazfar wanted to send a message to parents as well.
“The most powerful words we can offer are the ones we speak with one voice,” stated Rivazfar. “We want to encourage families to be proactive in talking about what it means to be safe versus having to be reactive. Fear paralyzes us and then we can do nothing.”
He stressed that children be allowed to live a normal life, but to be able to respond to situations as they come up.
“We want kids to know what to do to the point that it becomes second nature,” said Smart.
“The night we got Elizabeth back was amazing,” he continued. “She took a long bubble bath and watched her favorite video. We thought she would want to sleep in our room instead of the room where she had been abducted from, but instead she said, ‘I am going to sleep in my room. Don’t worry. I’ll be here in the morning.”
After the presentation, the riders talked briefly with parents and shook hands with the children before heading for Sacramento.
“We are so excited about getting the call that they wanted to come and talk to the kids,” said the charter school’s secretary Laurie Barnett. ”It is such and honor and it is such an important message.”
For more information or to track their journey, visit ridefortheirlives.com.
9/16/10 – by Marci Seither , Colfax Record correspondent