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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Winton Mom Holds Out Hope for Daughter's Return

Winton, CA: There are several things people can do to bring Vanessa Dawn Smith home, her mother believes.  Almost 14 years ago, the girl, then 15, vanished from near her Mercedes Avenue home in Winton. There have been no leads in the disappearance — but Beverly Smith said "it's a very open case."

Beverly Smith hopes people will light a candle and say a prayer for her daughter, as well as donate to the fund that pays for billboards and large-size laminated posters placed on the back of big rig trailers.

"I believe Vanessa is alive with all my heart," Beverly Smith said. "It's time we bring her home. I put her out (on posters) all the time. Our missing children don't have a voice. We (parents) are their voice."

Vanessa Smith disappeared about 7 p.m. May 31, 1997, while on her nightly walk. Her walking stick was found about 200 yards east of her Winton home but no other physical evidence was discovered.  The Merced County Sheriff's Department said Vanessa Smith had no history of running away from home and was close to her family. Her purse with money inside, along with her watch, were left at home.
Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin said the department's continued hope is to find her safe and sound.  "We vigorously follow every lead given in her disappearance and will continue to do so until she comes home safely," Pazin said.

Sgt. Jeff Coburn of the sheriff's Major Crimes Unit said there's always hope Vanessa Smith will be found and the case will be solved some day.  "It's an open investigation," Coburn said. "It takes time. We still look at possibilities but there are no new leads."

Beverly Smith's friend, Yvonne Smith of Merced, no relation, is the mother of four grown children and has six grandchildren. She has known Beverly Smith for 11 years.  "I sympathize with the family," Yvonne Smith said. "It could be my child. Even though I never met her, I feel like I know her. I want to help in every way I can. "

There are a number of Internet postings and websites about Vanessa Smith, including ones from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Child Quest International and the Doe Network. The Polly Klaas Foundation also has been involved in the case.

Her mother says Vanessa is posted on Facebook with the headline "Help Bring Vanessa Home."

"I know times are hard but if it were anybody's loved one, then what? We get a lot of love, prayers and support our way. It keeps on going," Beverly Smith said.

Smith is planning a fund-raiser for her daughter July 23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Courthouse Park in Merced. The Smiths need hot dog buns, chips, sodas, paper products and cotton candy. Those wishing to contribute may send checks to the Vanessa Smith Trust Fund at Travis Credit Union, 981 Bellevue Road, Atwater, CA 95301.

At the time of her disappearance, Vanessa had strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes. She has a freckled complexion and a scar on her left ear, along with a birthmark on her right arm stretching from her shoulder to her elbow.  Vanessa, who was 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighed 130 pounds when she disappeared, has Duane Syndrome and her right eye drifts to the inside. 

Others missing from Merced County for years include Karen Wright, Pamela Pedro, Paul Armstrong and Steven Lombard.  About 720,000 children a year go missing in the United States. Ninety-six percent are found safe or come home on their own. About 1 percent are found dead.

The governor's office has offered a $50,000 reward for those supplying information that leads to the whereabouts of Vanessa Smith and the arrest of her abductor.

Those with information about Vanessa Smith's disappearance may contact the Merced County Sheriff's Department Major Crimes Unit at (209) 385-7472.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Missing Children's Day 2011

Everywhere, USA & Worldwide: Today marks the 28th National Missing Children’s Day. First proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 and observed by every administration since, May 25th is the anniversary of the day in 1979 when 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared from a New York street corner on his way to school.  Etan’s story captivated the nation.  His photo, taken by his father, a professional photographer was circulated nationwide and appeared in media across the country and around the world.  The powerful image of Etan has come to symbolize the anguish and trauma of thousands of searching families.  The search for Etan continues.  He is still missing. 

Every year in America an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing, more than 2,000 children each day, thankfully the vast majority of them are recovered rather quickly. Unfortunately there are too many who aren't recovered so quickly.  Of that number, 200,000 are abducted by family members, and 58,000 are abducted by non-family members. The primary motive for non-family abductions is sexual. Each year 115 children are the victims of the most serious abductions, taken by non-family members and either murdered, held for ransom, or taken with the intent to keep.

Secretary Clinton Delivers a Message for National Missing Children's Day

Child Quest is proud of our contributions to Missing Children’s Day for the past 21 years, and for our involvement in keeping kids safer the other 364 days of the year since 1990. We would like to take a moment to remember all those who are still missing, honor those work tirelessly to reunite families and help keep kids safer, and remind parents to make time make time to talk to their children about child safety early and often.
Please visit the following links to help find a missing child and to keep your children safer:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SayLocal for Child Safety - Child Quest International Online Fundraiser

Silicon Valley & San Francisco Area:  We’re teaming up with SayLocal, a new deals website featuring locally-owned businesses, for a fundraising event benefiting Child Quest International (CQI).  SayLocal will donate 25% of total revenue (regardless of source) from Wednesday, May 25 (National Missing Children's Day) to CQI. This means, any and all deals!

Help CQI generate the most fundraising dollars possible with these easy steps:
1. Go to
2. Check out all the deals offered (be sure to browse all categories: Beauty & Health, Entertainment, Restaurants, Services and Shopping)
3. Purchase vouchers for your select deals on 5/25

You get deals for 50% off or more at participating local businesses and CQI benefits by receiving much-needed funds. Spread the word with friends and family because the more purchases are made, the more money for CQI.

*The proceeds from this fundraiser will be used to locate missing children and provide prevention education resources in the community to keep kids safer.

 Thank You for Keeping Hope Alive!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Child Quest Int'l Fundraiser @ Campo di Bocce Benefit Week

Livermore & Los Gatos, CA: Campo di Bocce of Livermore and Camp di Bocce of Los Gatos are jointly hosting the Building Brilliance Benefit Campaign, "One Roll at a Time"!  This campaign is an AWESOME & FUN family fundraising event for Child Quest International.  It's a simple fundraiser with a major impact on the lives of missing children and families.  The proceeds from this fundraiser will be used to locate missing children and provide prevention education resources in the community to keep kids safer.  All you have to do is participate in a game of Bocce Ball or have a fantastic meal at one Campo di Bocce's magnificent restaurants.  Child Quest will receive 15% of ALL PROCEEDS (lunch, dinner, to-go orders, bocce, and drinks/wine/alcohol).  All we ask of you is to show up, enjoy yourself, and mention you are there to support Child Quest International's "Benefit Week". 

Child Quest will be holding two "Benefit Weeks" @
Campo di Bocce of Livermore and Los Gatos: 

Campo di Bocce of Livermore May 31, 2011 - June 5, 2011
175 E Vineyard Ave., Livermore, CA 94550 | Ph (925) 249-9800

Campo di Bocce of Los Gatos June 6, 2011 - June12, 2011
565 University Ave., Los Gatos, CA 95032 | Ph (408) 395-7650

Come Join the Fun and Help Keep Kids Safe!
Click here to view and print flyer.
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