Members from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles joined Gov. Charlie Crist, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey and hundreds of children, parents, educators, law enforcement officers and public officials for the 2009 Florida Missing Children’s Day ceremony. Held in the Capitol Courtyard, the annual event is a reminder of Florida’s past and present missing children, as well as an opportunity to recognize the state’s efforts in the child protection arena.
Troopers stand ready to escort victims’ families.
Nine DHSMV members volunteered to chaperone nearly 100 children from Ruediger Elementary School, Leon County, Fla., who attended the event. The Florida Licensing On Wheels (FLOWmobile) provided motorist services, to include issuing eight identification cards, two of which were to children. Troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol escorted family members of missing children as they received a rose from the governor and placed it on a photograph of their loved one.
Governor Charlie Crist speaks to the audience.
The emotionally charged event recognized members from law enforcement agencies throughout the state for their efforts to locate missing children. The event also highlighted the bravery of two children who escaped their captors and relayed accurate information to law enforcement officers. In both cases, the information led to the apprehension of their captors. The young heroes helped Governor Crist present roses to the families of children who are still missing or who have been found dead.
This year’s Florida Missing Children’s Day was dedicated to child advocate Claudine Ryce who died Jan. 21. Ms. Ryce was the mother of Jimmy Ryce who was kidnapped and murdered in 1995 after he got off his school bus in Miami.
Alicia Guidry, Pat Sykes and Shirley Huggins provided
guidance for students from Ruediger Elementary School.
DHSMV employees that helped make the ceremony a success were Pauline Washington, Willie Smith, Amy Hurlbut, Kim Godwin, Pat Sykes, Shirley Huggins, David Cline, John Maxwell
Alicia Guidry, Reid Drapp and Paola Cline-Galindo.
FHP escorts included: Capt. George Crotta; Lts. Kelly Hildreth and Ron Castleberry; Sgts. Jesse Evans, Anthony Stone and Diane Martinez; and Troopers Michael Stallworth and John Castleberry.