Elaine Runyon-Simmons Spring/Summer 2013 – Missing Children / Amber Alert
SHERO Recipient Elaine Runyon-Simmons was selected as our SHERO of the SPRING/SUMMER 2013 because of her tireless efforts working with missing and exploited Children. She turned tragedy into triumph by helping thousands of other children and their parents as you will read.
Its been more than 20 years but she still works and speaks out on the AMBER alert once called the Rachael Alert. “It doesn’t take away all the pain or anything like that, but it helps to know that you’re making a difference,” she says Elaine Runyon-Simmons who knows what it’s like to worry about her daughter and wanted to organize an effort to help find her. Elaine’s daughter was Rachel Runyon, who was kidnapped in 1982. Three weeks later, hikers found her body in the mountains. Today the Amber Alert can help locate children like Rachel before it’s too late.
The most recent Amber Alert success was a 14-year-old Indiana girl whom police spotted in July just outside of Wendover. Twice each year, the Amber Alert is tested to make sure it works efficiently. Today the Woods Cross police department sent out the test. One minute and nine seconds later, cell phones and pagers around the state started receiving text messages about the alert. And KSL radio, which controls the emergency alert for all TV and radio stations across Utah, made the announcement on the air. TV stations also cut into programming for the announcement. Rachel Runyon’s mother says she’s happy the memory of her daughter is helping spare other families her pain. “She obviously had a very strong spirit and touched many, many people. “I think we’ve saved a lot of lives because of her. “Here in Utah, the Amber Alert was originally named the Rachel Alert after Rachel Runyon. It was changed to avoid confusion across the country.If this had been a real alert, you would have seen highway message boards posting information on the victim and suspect.Police officers also receive alerts through their laptop computers and cell phones. And dispatch centers broadcast it to all officers through their car radios.
The Amber Alert really coordinates an effort between the community, media and law enforcement, so everyone can be on the lookout for abducted children. Here in Utah, officials test the system on Missing Children’s Day in May, and on September 19th, a date that holds significance for the Runyon family. It’s been exactly 23 years since three-year-old Rachel Runyon’s body was found in a creekbed after the little girl was kidnapped and killed. Despite the time that’s passed, her mother still feels the pain. Elaine Runyan-Simmons Daughter Kidnapped & Killed: “You always miss that child and you always wonder what they would have been like.”When Rachel was kidnapped, there was no Amber Alert system in place. Elaine was one of the driving forces for the establishment of Missing Children of Utah, Inc., a not-for-profit organization. She was elected President of MCU in 1993, and held this position with great pride and commitment for several years. She has been actively involved in legislative issues that involve children, and has spoken statewide and nationally. Her story has appeared on Unsolved Mysteries, Today, Real People, Extra, Crime Solvers, America’s Most Wanted, CNN-Freeman Report and Street Smart Video. She has served on countless state commissions to combat child abuse, abduction and predatory crimes against children.
Today her mother is involved with promoting the system. “That’s why I do it, so others don’t have to go through this. And if we could have made it a different story or a different outcome, but I can’t change what happened. “But Elaine knows she can change what is happening now. The Amber Alert system has helped find more than 150 children across the U.S., and six here in Utah. Elaine Runyan-Simmons is the mother of little Rachael Runyan, the beautiful 3-year-old girl from Sunset, Utah. On August 26, 1982 Rachael was lured away by a stranger offering ice cream. She was found three weeks later, bound and murdered. To this day the perpetrator has never been caught. As devastating as this tragedy was, Elaine channeled her grief into educating children and their parents on the dangers of abduction and crimes against children and youth.
In addition, Elaine has had her own State Farm Insurance Agency for the last 18 1/2 years. Most importantly, she is the proud mother of Justin and Nate and Mother-in-law to Justin’s wife, Shana. Spending time with her beautiful grandchildren is Elaine’s favorite pastime!
SHEROES United would like to Thank Elaine for all of her efforts and Honor Her with our SHERO of the Quarter Designation.
Elaine You are a true SHERO!!!!