EVANSDALE, Iowa — Clouds hung over Lofty’s Lounge Saturday morning and the roar of motorcycles thundered during a memorial ride and drive for Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, and Elizabeth Collins, 8.
Hundreds of community members in purple and pink garb gathered to mark the first anniversary of the cousins’ disappearance on July 13. The girls’ bodies were later discovered at Seven Bridges Wildlife Area in Bremer County.
“It’s been a hard year,” said Drew Collins, Elizabeth’s father. “We’re just ready for answers and ready to change some laws and get things moving in the right direction.”
When Collins woke up this morning, he said he couldn’t believe a year had passed since Elizabeth and Lyric went missing. He appreciates the outpouring of support from the community he received at the ride.
“It’s just amazing. Through tragedy, some of these people who’ve carried us, I didn’t know them a year ago,” Collins said. “No one’s forgot about why we’re doing this.”
In Lofty’s Lounge, motorcycle and car drivers prepared for a 125-mile trek around Northeast Iowa, tying bandanas around their heads and purple ribbons to their arms. A meal was provided for everyone who helped find the girls and people bought raffle tickets. Proceeds going toward Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers and to Angels Park, a feature added in Evansdale since the girls’ disappearance.
Before the ride and drive, Heather Collins spoke to the crowd about her daughter.
“Everyone always asks me how many children you have. I didn’t realize how hard that question was until we lost Elizabeth,” Collins said. “God blessed us with four children, and even though we lost one, we will never forget her.”
Chris Webb of Waterloo, a motorcycle enthusiast, organized the event to bring awareness to the tragedy.
“Bikers get a bad reputation, but they have the softest heart,” Webb said.
Alicia Kozakiewicz of Chicago attended the event. She was a victim lured on the Internet in 2002 when she was 13 years old. She reminded the crowd the importance of vigilance against predators who prey on children.
“I’m here as a message of hope,” Kozakiewicz said. “Citizens need to come forward. They need to realize that this can happen to them.”
Though the year was difficult, Drew and Heather Collins said they appreciated the community.
“It’s amazing. They have rallied behind us, brought us dinner, they pretty much have carried us through this,” Drew Collins said.