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Advocate Missing at Children’s Rememberence

September 14th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

A voice was silent today as Florida paid tribute to the state’s missing children and their families. In 1995, 9 year old Jimmy Ryce was kidnapped and murdered. His mother Claudine worked tirelessly to prevent tragedy like hers from falling on other families. Claudine died in January, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, her presence was felt at today’s ceremony.

Claudine Ryce’s picture hung next to her son’s, memorialized in time.  Although she died in January, the work Claudine Ryce did since her son Jimmy’s kidnapping and murder lives on.

Jimmy Ryce’s killer was found a little over a mile from the bus stop where Jimmy was kidnapped.

At the time few police agencies had blood hounds, so Claudine Ryce worked passionately to puts dogs in the hands of every law enforcement agency.

At this year’s Missing Children’s Day event, dozens of dogs were honored for their life saving work.

“This is K-9 Albert, he was donated by the Jimmy Ryce Foundation,” Eric Burkes with the Sumpter County Sherrif’s office said. “He’s 14 months old; he had his first find at 10 months old.”

“We use this dog to help find missing children, Alzheimer’s sufferers that go missing, any type of missing person’s case this dog works,” Louis Ledbetter with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office said.

Governor Charlie Crist also spoke fondly of the many changes Claudine helped institute.

“Claudine took her grief and turned it into action,” Crist said. “Her tireless energy translated into programs that will protect our children for many years to come.”

So when it came time for family members to place a rose next to their missing loved one, there was also a rose for Claudine.

Because Claudine financed the placement of dozens of bloodhounds, there are children alive in Florida that might not otherwise be; the question is, now that she’s gone, will the program continue?

More than a dozen families of missing children attended today’s celebration and remembrance at the Capitol.  Many called it a bittersweet event.

Posted in Charlie Crist, Children, Criminal Justice, State News | No Comments »

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