Mad Ants join BairFind Foundation to search for missing children

Mad Ants join BairFind Foundation to search for missing children

BairFind provides information that fans can see at games.

By Sheryl Krieg,

As a father of two grown children, Mad Ants President Tim Bawmann can only imagine what parents experience when they try to locate their missing children.

To raise awareness of their plight, he has formed a partnership with BairFind Foundation to place photos of 14 missing children from the greater Fort Wayne area at Mad Ants games.

BairFind Foundation, based out of Jacksonville, Fla., is a relatively new entity, although its founder, Dennis Bair, has used his sports connections the last few decades to locate missing children.

Bair, who was a minor-league pitcher during the 1990s, said he saw a documentary during the off-season in 1997 about parents whose teenage daughter was missing. He said they spent their money printing and distributing flyers on the street that most people disposed of in a nearby trashcan. He thought if that teen’s picture and information could be displayed in baseball stadiums, thousands of people would see her picture and maybe have information about her.

“It was not my heart, more my brain,” Bair said. “It was a logical thought process for me, I figured. It’s so basic and figured they were already there since they were at the post office and on milk cartons. They must be here, but I’m not seeing them.”

Bair said his Jewish faith taught him, “If you think something ought to be there, and it’s not there, it’s your job to put it there. If I had an idea to put up signs, it must be my job to do it.”

Bair began talking to owners of minor-league baseball teams who really bought into the idea to display missing children’s pictures` from their area.

Bair said of the 500 children featured in minor-league baseball stadiums this summer 182 have been safely found. In those cases, the foundation prints a “found” sticker that is sent to the team to place over the photo of the child.

All of this is done without cost to the missing child’s family.

“All the teams tell us they feel so good when they place the decal over the sign,” Bair said. “They just want to celebrate and want to focus on finding more children. For any of us to play a small part in that is a great feeling.”

Bair said several years ago the foundation partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which sends the foundation all its profiles. When a child is found, the center contacts Bair’s foundation so he can send the found sticker.

Bair said 40 million fans attend minor-league baseball games, and he’s certainly looking forward to expanding into basketball. He said he’d like to attract a national sponsor.

Bawmann, who at one time was president and general manager of the Lowell, Mass., Spinners, a minor-league baseball farm team of the Boston Red Sox, put signs up with the missing children’s photos, resulting in four children being found in one season. “I saw it work,” Bawmann said.

When Bawmann switched to basketball, he wanted to bring the concept here. “I’m trying to get him (Bair) into basketball,” Bawmann said. “I think every team should display signs.”Bawmann said he places the two 6-foot tall signs of photos, which are portable, at the entrance and exit every game. “It’s a program that is near and dear to my heart,” he said.

Bawmann said he’s working to get teams in the NBA Development League and NBA to get pictures of the missing children in other arenas.

“I’ll just continue to push it,” Bawmann said. “Step by step we’ll get there.”

“I would encourage fans to look at the signs,” Bawmann said. “See if we can bring some of the kids home.”

BairFind Foundation was awarded Minor League Baseball’s Presidential Citation earlier this month for the program.

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