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EVANSDALE — The roar of nearly 200 motorcycles Saturday morning was the sound — and a symbol — of a community coming together to support its own.

The fourth annual “Memorial Ride and Drive for the Girls” marked the anniversary of the still unsolved abduction and murder of cousins Elizabeth Collins, 8, and Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10.

It began at Lofty’s Lounge in Evansdale.

A short ceremony preceded the 170-mile ride to remember the girls and to raise awareness about missing and exploited children.

“The ride has become more than just a ride for Elizabeth and Lyric. It’s about our community that has come together,” said Drew Collins, Elizabeth’s father. “We are not just here to drink some beer and take a ride. We have come together to take a stand against anyone who would harm our children.”

The ride raises awareness and funds. The event supports the Angels Memorial Park at Meyers Lake and Cedar Valley Crime Stoppers.

Drew Collins said the goal Saturday was to raise $4,000.

While Collins stressed the importance of getting tips to find the person or people who killed Elizabeth and Lyric, others were more blunt.

“So hopefully we can find the son of a bitch,” Dennis Sanderson of Waterloo said, explaining why he has attended the event all four years.

One sentiment expressed throughout the short ceremony was that the loss of the girls brought the community together.

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“Cases like this have a spider web effect, not only on the family but on the community, so in a certain sense as a community you’re part of what they faced,” said Derek VanLuchene, whose brother, Ryan, was abducted and murdered in Montana in 1987. He has since founded Ryan United to help other families.

VanLuchene said it will take the community coming together to catch the person or people responsible for the crimes against Lyric and Elizabeth.

“The key to solving these cases is that continual information that’s out there, continuing to put it out there, continuing to look at it,” VanLuchene said.

The event has grown each of the past four years and awareness of the case continues to spread.

Paul “Woody” Woodward said it has increased by between 50 and 100 people each year. Amy Neisen said not only more but a broader range of people are coming from outside the community to support the memorial ride.

Mia Heasley knows the importance of keeping the girls’ memories alive. It is why she still wears the pink bandana she brought to the first ride. But she also sees it as “something good that is going to come out of the bad.”

“We’ll keep coming every year,” Heasley said.

The memorial ride is just one of a handful of events this month to raise awareness about child safety and remember the girls.

A child safety awareness day will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday. July 13 was the day the girls disappeared in 2012 near Meyers Lake in Evansdale.

An event Saturday will raise funds to build a bridge at Angels Park. That fundraiser from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, 202 E. First St. in Waterloo, will include a variety of events.

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