07 May Squirrel Hill man has worked to help find missing Cleveland women
By Kaitlynn Riely / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
To Dennis Bair, the story coming out of Cleveland Monday seemed too good to be true: three women, each missing for about a decade, had been found, alive, inside a house.
“I just, I couldn’t believe it,” the 38-year-old Squirrel Hill man said today. “It’s just a miracle.”
It’s a miracle that Mr. Bair has been working toward for years.
A former minor leaguer baseball player mostly with the Chicago Cubs, Mr. Bair is the founder of The BairFind Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to find missing children by displaying their photographs in high-profile spots such as stadium concourses, game programs and Jumbotrons scoreboards.
“We take the profiles of missing kids, and we put them where the people are, and that’s in sports stadiums and arenas,” he said.
Two of the three missing Cleveland women found Monday — Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus — have been part of Mr. Bair’s campaign for years, and Mr. Bair has worked closely with the DeJesus family to find their daughter, who went missing April 2, 2004 when she was 14 years old. Just three weeks ago, Mr. Bair attended a Cleveland Cavaliers game with the DeJesus family where her photo was displayed.
Mr. Bair, who coaches freshman baseball at Peters Township High School, had just finished coaching a game at Upper St. Clair High School Monday when friends in Florida sent him a text message saying Ms. DeJesus had been located.
According to reports out of Cleveland, a neighbor heard screaming coming from a house, and when he investigated saw a woman who said she was Ms. Berry trying to escape. Police later found Ms. DeJesus and a third woman, Michelle Knight, in the house.
Mr. Bair did a quick Internet search, saw it was true and immediately called Nancy Ruiz, the mother of Gina DeJesus.
She answered, and they both started laughing and crying.
“She just kept saying, ‘God bless you, God bless you, you never gave up,'” Mr. Bair said. “And I just kept saying, ‘God bless you, God bless you, you never gave up on your daughter.'”
Associated Press contributed. Kaitlynn Riely: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1707.
First Published May 7, 2013 11:45 am