INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Cycling to honor area foster care children.

A nationally ranked rider is hitting the pavement ahead of Jackson County CASA’s Bright Lights for Kids event in September.

The inspiration is a local cyclist who was tragically killed while riding his bike.

Cyclists were hard at work Friday in the heat of the day. JC Van Deventer started riding just after midnight. He said each lap means something important.

Van Deventer shouted on his bike “1,217 laps to go!”

He’s tackling 2,328 laps. That number represents every child in the Kansas City area who received support last year from CASA volunteers — Court Appointed Special Advocates who help children experiencing abuse and neglect.

“There’s faces and names for each lap and that matters,” Van Deventer said, “and it’s frustrating that it’s not more laps for every child in the area, but then it’s also frustrating that it’s not less laps and that we don’t kids in these situations.”

Jackson County CASA said more than 1,900 children are abused every day.

Van Deventer wants to help “brake the cycle”.

Over the years, he’s opened up his home to 120 foster children. This year he’s doing something a little different — organizing the Bright Lights for Kids Bike Ride and 5K.

Athletes are coming in from across the country to ride anywhere from 10 miles to 200 kilometers.

The event is inspired by Charlie Criniere, an avid cyclist and father of 10 who was killed last year while riding his bike.

“This is exactly what was in Charlie’s heart,” Van Deventer said.

Criniere’s widow, Megan, said he was in the court system growing up and was given a scholarship — that’s how he became a teacher, impacting so many kids’ lives for the better.

“Any form of advocating for kids, that was his heart. So, he would have loved this,” Widow Megan Criniere said. “We reap the benefits of that of what was poured into him and so did hundreds of kids.”

Van Deventer said that’s who this is about — the kids. And any difficulty he faces on his 24-hour journey, he said it doesn’t compare to the adversity he believes these kids will overcome.

“The challenge for me is nothing. The challenge that these kids go through is hard to quantify,” Van Deventer said. “So, you just do another lap.”

The Bright Light for Kids event is Sept. 16 at Longview Lake. Van Deventer said 100% of the proceeds from the event go to Jackson County CASA.

To get involved with CASA in your county, visit Bright Lights Ride.