Squirrel Hill man’s BairFind Foundation campaign to find missing children moves to ballparks
January 27, 2014 3:57 PM
Lake Fong/The Pittsburgh Press
Dennis Bair advertised the faces of missing Cleveland women Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus for years as part of the foundation he created to search for missing children.
By Kaitlynn Riely / The Pittsburgh Press
Dennis Bair has a simple approach to the complex problem of finding missing children and teenagers and returning them to their families. His idea: put their pictures where the people are.
Such as baseball stadiums.
Starting this spring, Mr. Bair, himself a former minor league baseball player, plans to send posters featuring the names and pictures of missing children and teenagers to be displayed on the concourses of about 25 minor league stadiums.
“We want to take the profiles, and put them where the people are, and the people are in stadiums every night, every other night, all summer long,” said Mr. Bair, 39, a baseball coach for Peters Township High School who lives in Squirrel Hill.
The initiative is the latest venture of the BairFind Foundation, a nonprofit organization Mr. Bair founded in 2011. The group has posted profiles of missing children at venues including Heinz Field and PNC Park.
Some of the missing children featured by the BairFind Foundation have been found, such as Gina DeJesus, a Cleveland girl who went missing at age 14. She was found last May, along with two other young women, in a house in Cleveland after several years of captivity.
Mr. Bair said his organization, with the help of a $50,000 grant from the PNC Foundation, is now working to spread its posters to several cities with minor league baseball teams, with the hope of aiding in the discovery of more missing children and teenagers.
He is working with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to design site-specific posters so that stadiums will feature the faces and names of children missing from their region.
“Dennis has been a tireless advocate for missing children,” said Robert Lowery, senior executive director of the center’s missing children division.
He called the minor league stadium initiative an “important program,” in large part because of the amount of traffic the stadiums get.
When the season starts in April, posters are expected to be on display in the 12 stadiums of the Florida State League, including the Pirates affiliate in Bradenton.
Tom Kayser, president of the Texas League, said “a number of clubs” in his league are also interested in displaying the posters.
The posters will also be on display in 10 stadiums in the Southern League, said league president Lori Webb.
“We have over 2 million fans through our ballparks every year, so that will be wonderful exposure for these missing kids,” she said.
Mr. Bair’s goal is to have posters in every minor league stadium in the country. To support that goal, BairFind Foundation is holding a comedy show fundraiser featuring Mike Wysocki and others at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Homestead Carnegie Library, 510 E. 10th St. in Munhall. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door, which opens at 7 p.m.
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