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Sandy Hook's Team 26 Heading Back To Washington April 9

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Team 26 is ready to ride - again.The Newtown Bee. "As America's bike messengers, this trip we will be delivering a petition to Congress to keep guns off campuses."Keep tabs on Team 26 via its website, or the team's .Facebook Page

The 26-member bicycle team organized by award-winning cycling enthusiast and Sandy Hook resident Monte Frank will depart following a brief ceremony and speaking program on the steps of Edmond Town Hall around 8 am Saturday, April 9. Then, between April 9 and 12, Team 26 will complete its fourth ride from Sandy Hook to the US Capitol in Washington, DC.

This year's mission is to continue raising awareness of America's gun violence epidemic; to support common sense legislation to reduce gun violence; and to honor the 20 children and six educators killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on 12/14, and all victims of gun violence throughout the nation.

"This year, we are advocating for universal background checks and supporting grassroots efforts at the state and local level," Mr Franks told

That petition, which currently has more than 36,000 signatures, is being supported by Emma Iannini and Sarah Clements - two Newtown residents who are currently students at Georgetown University. They will be on hand as Team 26 is welcomed to the Capitol grounds April 12 by Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Chris Murphy, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.

"We also will be hanging 26 Ben's Bells at our stops in the six states and the District of Columbia we are riding through," Mr Frank said. The mission of Ben's Bells is to inspire individuals and communities to engage in kindness education and practice.

Each Ben's Bell mobile is created through a collaborative effort among several people, and are either given or hung as a random message of kindness to those who discover them.

This year's Team 26 ride will have a new itinerary, with the Newtown departure ceremony being the only Connecticut event. The speaking program for that morning will include First Selectman Patricia Llodra; Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, Congresswoman Esty, Mr Frank, Andy Pelosi of the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, Nelba Marquez-Greene and Jimmy Greene, parents of Sandy Hook victim Ana Marquez-Green, Ron Pinciaro of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, and a Ben's Bells representative.

The remainder of the ride will feature a couple of firsts, Mr Frank said. It will be the team's first ride into Philadelphia, where they will be welcomed on the steps of the City Hall by Mayor Jim Kenney around 3 pm on April 10. That stop will feature Team 26 member and 12/14 emergency room physician and responder William Begg.

The ride will also make its first visit to the University of Delaware for a 10:30 am ceremony on April 11. One day earlier, Team 26 will pull into Morristown, N.J., where they will be welcomed by a contingent that includes Maura Sherlach Schwartz, whose mother and school psychologist Mary Sherlach was lost at Sandy Hook on 12/14.

Later that evening, the team will be the honored guests at an event for Mary's Fund at the Morristown Hyatt.

A few hours after the Delaware stop, Team 26 will head to the more familiar venue of Baltimore City Hall where they will be joined by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Attorney General Brian Frosh, along with Vinny Demarco of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence.

The final day of their ride, Team 26 will arrive at Faith Presbyterian Church in Southeast Washington to meet Congresswoman Norton, before advancing to the Capitol welcoming ceremony.

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Members from the 2015 Team 26 bicycle ride from Newtown to Washington, DC, are pictured after being welcomed at a stop in The Bronx. The 2016 Team 26 ride is on schedule to depart from the front steps of Edmond Town Hall on Saturday, April 9, following a brief ceremony and speaking program that commences at 8 am. (Courtesy Team 26)
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