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Team 26 bicyclists, including Aidan Charles, of Middletown, Conn., center, arrive at the Capitol, the end of a four-day Sandy Hook Ride on Washington in 2013 calling for better gun control. A new ride to Washington begins Saturday. / H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY

NEWTOWN, Conn. - Twenty-six cyclists plan to embark Saturday on a 400-mile ride to Washington to show that communities are united in making streets safer and ending gun violence.

The 26 riders - a number chosen to symbolize the number of children and adults killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012 - expect to arrive in Washington on Tuesday after rallies in Newtown and other communities along the way.

Rallies are planned in Ridgefield and Greenwich, Conn.; Harlem, N.Y.; Morristown, N.J.; Doylestown, Pa.; Baltimore and College Park, Md., and at two Washington destinations - the Washington National Cathedral and the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

"These are very different communities, but we stand together as Americans united in our call for stronger gun-violence prevention laws," says Monte Frank, a Newtown lawyer who is one of the riders. "This ride is no longer about Newtown, but about how America is getting together and demanding that our children be allowed to grow up and pursue their dreams."

Frank's daughter, Sarah, was taught at Sandy Hook school by Victoria Soto, a teacher killed in the shootings.

Frank organized a similar ride last year that, he says, increased awareness about gun-violence issues.

The ride "showed how Newtown wants to be viewed - not as a community that suffered an unspeakable tragedy and did nothing, but as that town that emerged from the ashes to lead the nation in a movement to reduce the unacceptable levels of gun violence and honor with action."

Riders Saturday will include three other Newtown residents, several award-winning cyclists and Omar Samaha, whose sister, Reema, was killed in shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007.

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra says she supports "the mission and purpose" of the cyclists.

"Primarily these good folks are seeking to reduce violence and death through an increase in safety measures associated with firearms," says Llodra, the town's chief executive. "Universal background checks and better controls of the gun trade are focal points of their efforts. I support those initiatives."

Llodra says she doesn't know if the second ride to Washington will make a difference.

"I do know that each and every one of us has to decide what is worth fighting for and then put our energies toward that end, despite the obstacles."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Bike ride from Newtown to D.C. targets gun violence

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