Yesterday I had the privilege of welcoming participants from across the country to our annual conference for law enforcement professionals and other community leaders on the topic of investigating and handling missing person cases. Each day in this country there are 100,000 of these active cases. For 18 years now, FVTC has played a lead educational role nationally to support the efforts of law enforcement in addressing child protection, abducted and exploited children, and missing adults.
Beth Holloway, mother of Natalee Holloway, spoke at yesterday’s conference as well as at a session on campus for the community last night. Natalee was on a senior class trip to Aruba but didn’t return home with her classmates. She went missing and it was eventually determined that she had been murdered. Beth shared the incredible story of getting that call from Aruba, the months of effort to work with authorities in a foreign country to find Natalee, and her eventual resolve to turn this tragedy into making a difference for others. I can’t imagine how families deal with the abduction of loved ones and was in awe of Beth’s strength, courage, and resolve to live her own life in a way that was a positive force for others. We had a great audience turn out from the community to hear Beth’s story firsthand.
I felt the closing message last night had application not only for cases of missing children, but for so many aspects of life. That message was this: even when we do all the right things, sometimes bad things happen. And when they do, we need to constructively work through them with the best resources available and a resolve to make the most of the situation. When we face our own challenges, it is always good to keep the perspective that most likely others have dealt with worse things. Last night I couldn’t help but think that the senseless murder of one’s child had to be among the very worst of challenges.