16 Sep Standing with Families
“She (Nancy Ruiz, mother of Gina DeJesus) learned from a friend about the work of Dennis Bair, a former Minor League Baseball pitcher who had started BairFind, an organization dedicated to bringing home missing children. Bair had been featuring Gina’s photo and description in one of his poster campaigns in Minor League ball parks. When Nancy called to thank him, the two struck up a friendship and started working together. Nancy handed out flyers with pictures of Gina and other missing kids at ball parks around Ohio and Pennsylvania, even throwing out a couple of ceremonial first pitches – anything to keep looking for Gina.” – An excerpt from the bestseller “Hope”, by Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, with Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan
Gina’s parents Nancy and Felix, and her entire family told me time and again how important these public appearances at sporting events were in their search for their daughter. They said it made them feel energized, that they were getting out there and doing something powerful and effective. Amazingly, I learned that Gina had seen her mom on television all of those years throwing out first pitches, with the Williamsport Crosscutters (Philadelphia Phillies Single A, New York-Penn League), the Akron RubberDucks (Cleveland Indians Double A, Eastern League), and a special halftime ceremony with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. It inspired me to want to create the same opportunity for other families, in cities and ballparks across America.
Our newest family that we are standing with is the Degners. They are the family of Mark Degner, a boy missing from Jacksonville, Florida. The Jacksonville Suns (Miami Marlins Double A, Southern League) recently welcomed us for first pitch ceremonies in August of 2015, and they featured Mark’s profile on their big screen, along with the profiles of several other missing kids from North Florida.
“Dennis Bair, founder of the BairFind Foundation, thank you for your BringHome100 campaign and for being a friend to my parents.” – Gina DeJesus in “Hope”