amber alertIt sounds like the plot of a movie. Any moment Jason Statham or Matt Damon should be showing up to personally search for this little girl, and beat up a billion bad guys along the way. Unfortunately, it’s not a Hollywood story line, and Jessica Ridgeway is really missing.

Jessica is a 10-year-old girl living in Westminster, Colorado. Friday morning, she disappeared during her three-block walk to a local park. There, she meets up with other neighborhood kids and they travel on to school together. Jessica makes this walk every morning. But on this day, she didn’t meet her friends in the park and she didn’t make it to school. Now, hundreds of people are searching the surrounding area in below-freezing temperatures to try to find this little girl.

The police admit that they got a late start on the search. Jessica’s mom works an overnight shift at a local tech company. She slept through the school’s phone call, letting her know that her daughter never made it to class that day. By the time the mother woke up eight hours later, the police had lost valuable time. Still, more than 50 officers and FBI agents, as well as over 100 volunteers, combed through parks and trails, went door-to-door, and used bloodhounds to try to track the young girl.

The police did note to local journalists that Jessica’s mom was currently in a custody battle with the girl’s father, who lives in another state. However, the police do not believe that the little girl is with him.

So far, the search has not been successful, but police are hoping that the weather will clear up and allow for search helicopters to start circling the area. And even more volunteers are expected to join in the effort to find this little girl.

These moments, when we hear about such an extraordinarily terrifying and potentially heartbreaking situation that another parent is having to experience, these moments have to bring us together. As communities, they make want to rise up and protect our own. As parents, they make us take a step back from whatever pettiness is going on in our lives to pray for this child and her family.

Whether it’s the fault of television shows like Criminal Minds or the sensationalism of the news media over certain stories, plenty of parents have had nightmares about that moment. We’ve been terrified at this thought. It feels real to us because in our heads, we’ve gone there. We’ve seen something this awful happen.

Last year, a young girl went missing from my hometown. Her name was Aliahna Lemmon, and the outcome was horrible. Our community was shocked by the incident. This morning, reading this news of Jessica Ridgeway, I couldn’t help but send my heart out to every person in Westminster, Colorado. I am sure that all of them feel a very personal sense of fear and anguish.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Jessica Ridgeway, her family, and the entire community of people out searching for her. I hope she is brought home safe. This story sounds like the beginning of a movie, so let’s all hope it comes with a happy ending as well.

(Photo: NewsNet5)