At any given time, there are around 300 children missing from Arkansas. Wednesday, their families heard a very emotional message of hope from a kidnapping survivor.
Pictures of missing and dead children lined the front of the steps at the sixth annual Arkansas Missing Children's Day at Little Rock's MacArthur Park. Their faces are full of innocence. Their eyes seem to light up the world. But, as the names of the children are read, in the eyes of their families, is the kind of pain no parent should have to feel.
Colleen Nick says, "This is something that still affects us."
Nick, considered the states greatest crusader for the families of missing children, spoke at the annual event.
Nick told the crowd, "It's always emotional for me because I look into the audience and I see people who are friends because you have missing children."
Most are familiar with the kidnapping of her daughter, Morgan, 10 years ago, but there are dozens of other stories like hers.
Laurell Hall's daughter, Cleashindra, disappeared from her after school job in Pine Bluff 12 years ago.
Hall says, "All I have is the faith and the hope that I’ll get a chance to see her."
Kidnapping survivor Tamara Brooks reminded the families at the event that seeing their children again alive is always possible.
Four years ago, Brooks and another young girl were abducted in California.
Describing the horrific ordeal, Brooks says, "I was bound with duct tape."
However, the two girls fought back. "He had made the biggest mistake of his life choosing to take myself and this young woman," says Brooks.
Seventeen hours after the kidnapping, the girls were rescued. Their captor was shot to death by police. The story of her escape is a message of hope.
The stories of the Arkansas families present at the event are a sign of what true heartbreak is like and a reminder for all of us to hold close the ones we love.
Missing Children's Day was hosted by Attorney General Mike Beebe. This was the sixth year for the event.