Every Child is a Reason to Give

On September 7, 2012 a KlaasKids Foundation Search and Rescue (SAR) team located the remains of seventeen-year-old Linnea Lomax  in Sacramento, CA. Our non-profit conducted several searches before we were able to bring Linnea’s case to a close and provide relief for her family. Linnea’s father Craig Lomax said on air during the nationally televised program Dr. Drew On Call, “Marc [Klaas], thank you for saving us potentially years of mystery and not knowing. Marc runs a first class act and KlaasKids doesn`t charge anything. It`s terrible news [learning that your daughter is dead], but it`s better than not knowing for the rest of our lives, which is what we might have been up against.”

 

KlaasKids has been offering SAR services since 1994. In 2003, KlaasKids formalized our search and rescue operation with the goal of providing families with a professional, well trained and focused SAR team who will help them to navigate the murky waters of despair and hopelessness at no cost to the family.

 

We cannot continue our important work without your help. Your generous tax deductible donation to the KlaasKids Foundation allows us to provide desperate families with essential services and resources, hope and support. While KlaasKids does not charge for SAR services, it does require financial support to coordinate our efforts.

 

I was filled with great pride when Craig Lomax said that we gave his family a gift that money could never buy: the peace of mind of knowing that their daughter is now protected from further pain and harm and has been returned to the loving arms of her family. I know this to be true from my own personal experience, but for once I was left speechless. His crystal clear sentiment validated our work, our purpose and our mission.

 

Please join us by including the KlaasKids Foundation in your charitable giving for 2012. In 2012 KlaasKids SAR provided services and assistance in 83 cases of missing and/or trafficked persons. In 23 cases KlaasKids SAR provided search and rescue services. 17 of those cases have been resolved; while 6 cases remain open.

 

In my heart it’s always been about Polly, but in truth it is about every child.

I Am Losing My Best Friend

 By Brad Dennis

Jerry Dennis and granddaughter Taylor Dennis

Jerry Dennis and granddaughter Taylor Dennis

For years the relationship between my Dad and I were strained. Memories of a childhood filled with selfishness and alcoholism far exceeded memories of a Dad playing catch with me. As an adult our friendship blossomed. We reconnected in ways I had only read about and once longed for.

 

My Dad passed onto me his love of golf, Carolina basketball and the New York Yankees. Ours was a relationship built on sports and the way two men can get themselves lost in these conversations. As I grew older and he grew sicker I realized there were more important traits that he shared with me. You see, he has an insatiable drive…anything he ever set his mind to do, he did. His quiet strength and fortitude forged strong friendships with others. His dogged determination in his relationships with his friends had him going out of the way on numerous occasions to help them.

 

I have lost other friends, I have witnessed tragedies, and I have been with numerous families at the worst times of their lives and because of these instances I thought I knew grief. The grief I did not know has washed over me in waves. First as we sat and listened to my dad tell us he was ready to go, and now as I sit and watch him wither away into a shell of the man I love. I now know grief.

 

His breaths are more labored, the memories of him come like a flood. There are the memories of him coaching my Little League baseball team, teaching me to play golf, the arguments and the love. Memories of him answering my call for help as my High School date and I got stuck in a ditch. I remember he pulled up, got out the jack, jacked up the back wheel and then slammed the car off the jack and back onto traction. He walked over to me and winked and then said, “Son, you need to get this young lady home to her family.” Nothing else has EVER been said about that night. He was the one I ran to during a marriage crisis He is the one that gave my wife her first real “dad” relationship. For all of these memories I am thankful.

 

I know that most of us hope to bury our parents and not the other way around. I know that what is happening is the circle of life. I know that his decision to accept Jesus Christ into his life brings to life the scripture, “absent from body means present with the Lord.” And even though I know all of these things…right now, I know grief more.

 

Memories will sustain us in these times. To my friends, expect to see me on the golf course more, as I walk the fairways or line up my next putt, know that I’m playing so that I can reconnect with my caddy – my Dad.

 

Brad’s father Jerry Dennis passed quietly this morning. Please keep the Dennis family in your thoughts and prayers. MK

 

A New Concept: The Polly Center

Brad’s Suburban

KlaasKids strives to remain on the cutting edge of child safety. To that end, on July 23, 2011 we introduced a revolutionary concept in child abduction and exploitation response. The Polly Center, located in Pensacola, Florida is a proactive missing child resource center. It was created to provide a preemptive response network to serve families of missing persons. This regional resource center will also provide abuse prevention programs for children and services for victims of exploitation.

 Responding to a missing person case is akin to communities responding to natural disasters. When a 911 call is placed reporting a missing person, the response must happen very quickly as time lost can be critical and even life threatening. So it is with natural disasters: communities must respond from the ground up. Currently, most communities have an emergency disaster response plan which consists of pre-planning and the identification of resources necessary to respond to a give disaster. The Polly Center will mirror that approach as it applies to missing person and human trafficking cases.

The concept behind the Polly Center is based on events that happened and surrounded my daughter Polly’s case in 1993. The entire community of Petaluma: business; churches; individuals; fraternal organizations all came together to assist in building the search effort for Polly. For the past 18-years KlaasKids has been responding to communities that are grappling with predatory or highly suspicious missing child cases. However, each time that we respond we have to invent the wheel all over again by locating relevant resources. With the Polly Center much of that work will already be in place and resources will be put on alert to respond as necessary.

A preemptive response plan includes creating key partnerships with law enforcement, businesses, civic organizations and churches willing to participate during the search for a missing person or willing to assist in the rescue and recovery of victims of exploitation these partnerships allow the Polly Center to create a response framework prior to a missing response or rescue attempt.

Currently, we have the support of local authorities including the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.
Several agreements have been established with key organizations. California based BeyondMissing will provide parents with a parent flyer tool. They will be able to upload pictures, fill out form fields and quickly create a professional English or Spanish language missing child flyer that can be shared via fax or email. The Florida Coalition against Human Trafficking will provide assistance in identifying and placing victims. The Gulf Coast Kids House, a Children’s Advocacy Center, will provide services to child abuse victims. Area Search and Rescue teams will provide professional services in the search for missing persons

The Polly Center is the brainchild of Brad Dennis, the KlaasKids Foundation National Director of Search Operations. Brad, who has more than 25-years of experience in search and rescue and crisis management, has managed search efforts for more than 180-missing and exploited children throughout the United States, including the community assisted search effort following Polly’s 1993 kidnapping. Most volunteer search protocols currently being used were developed by Brad during the search for Polly.

If KlaasKids finds success with the Pensacola based Polly Center we intend to replicate the template throughout the United States. We know that such an ambitious vision will be difficult to implement and will take time, but we believe that our children are worth it. Don’t you?