Golf Tournament Highlights Missing Children
By: CJ Cassidy
MADISON, Ill. - What better way to bring attention to missing kids, than through a child who once disappeared himself?
Everyone's focus was on Shawn Hornbeck Thursday, the boy many people call the Miracle of Missouri.
Shawn's parents hope to raise $20,000 to continue their efforts for missing kids.
Talk about pressure, as helicopters hovered overhead, and cameras rolled, a crowd gathered to watch Shawn Hornbeck tee off and begin the first annual "Bring Them Home" golf tournament.
It was also Shawn's first public appearance with the Hornbeck Foundation, the search and rescue team his parents created to help find him four and a half years ago.
When asked how big a role Shawn would play in the foundation, his mother, Pam Akers said, "As big a role as he wants to play. At this point, he wants to take baby steps."
She is more than happy to be at her son's side every step of the way. In fact she's afraid to let go.
Pam herself wasn't able to stay by Shawn at the tournament; instead it was the Madison County, Illinois Sheriff who stood next to him.
After spending four years looking for their kidnapped son, the Akers' precautions are not surprising.
"He's like everything's going to be ok. I'll be fine, Mom. But in my heart and soul, I cannot let him out on his own," Pam said.
With a stock car racing team named in his honor, featuring missing kids on their cars, Shawn's dad has no doubt his son will eventually get used to all the attention.
"He's come to realize when he's travelling with mom and dad media's not going to be far behind. He's ok with that. He's not at the point where he wants to talk to the media," Craig said.
"With Shawn being gone all those years, all kinds of people saw him while he was gone, who's to say one of the girls or guys could be seen could be living a couple of doors down," said Christina Lemons, one of the drivers of the stock cars for Team Hornbeck.
In the meantime, Shawn's parents take pride in the little things they missed out on. He was back home for his recent 16th birthday.
"It was priceless. Nothing could have went wrong that day," Pam said.
That's the kind of happiness the Akers and Shawn hope the fundraiser brings other families with missing kids.
Team Hornbeck is set to start racing next year.