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Fundraiser boosts safety project

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POSTED: September 17, 2012 4:00 p.m.
Patty Leon/

Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes and Julie Seckinger of Salt Cured watch as Earnestine Roberts is fitted with a Project Lifesaver tracking device. Salt Cured raised enough money to purchase six tracking devices for families in need of Project Lifesaver.

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Beverly Bowers said she has more peace of mind knowing that her mother Earnestine Roberts could be found if she wanders away. Bowers said her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer.

Bowers said didn’t know there was anything that could help her mother but then learned about Project Lifesaver and later got an unexpected surprise.

Bowers, who attends Savannah Technical College-Liberty campus, said a school colleague told her the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office has a program that could help her mother.

Project Lifesaver is a nationwide service that helps to locate people who suffer from autism, Downs syndrome, Alzheimer and other cognitive disorders, should they wander off and become lost or disoriented.

Clients wear a tracking device on their wrist or around their ankle that can be activated when 911 is alerted that the person is missing and wearing the device. Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes implemented the program in April 2011 after reading about it in a magazine. Since then several families have signed up, saying it brings them peace of mind.

The device costs $300 and Sikes quickly set up payment plans to help those in need.

On Aug. 18, the program got a boost when Salt Cured, the 2012 sponsor of the Coastal Empire Kingfish Tournament, set up a tent during a fishing tournament in Richmond Hill and started a collection for Project Lifesaver here.

“Some wonderful people have come forward and have given us some money,” LCSO Capt. David Edwards said.

Edwards said they raised nearly $2,000.

Much to Bowers’ surprise she qualified for the free device and on Thursday morning her mother was being fitted at the Sheriff’s Office in the Justice Center. The family learned how to check the device and what procedures to follow if Roberts goes missing.

“This is exactly what we wanted to do….be able to give to the families that might be financially strapped,” Edwards said.

Bowers also got to meet the person responsible for her mother’s free device as sheriff Sikes presented Julie Seckinger of Salt Cured a certificate of appreciation.

“Project Lifesaver is great and if in fact we can take the burden off the people who really need it, then that’s what it’s all about,” Sikes said. “Julie and her company stepped up to the plate and that helped make this happen for you guys. We are hoping that other organizations will get behind it and help us make this available for any citizen in this county. The peace of mind that you will receive from this program is worth it to us.”

Seckinger said she knew about Project Lifesaver and knew that Sikes was attached to the program. She said Salt Cured was already sponsoring the tournament and decided to set up a benefit raffle.

“He (Sikes) has such a true concern and compassion for the families, and I can’t even imagine what they (the families) go through each day and the peace of mind that this brings, not just in a life or death situation but every day… We found a way that we could help and I hope that it will bring awareness because there are many people that don’t know about it or don’t have the funds,” Seckinger said.

She said 100 boats and several fishing teams participated in the tournament and many didn’t know anything about Project Lifesaver.

“So it did help build awareness and people went crazy when we told them we could use the funds to purchase devices,” she said. “They were just coming up and giving $20 to help support it.”

Bowers said it does give her peace of mind.

“We want her to be safe and we don’t want her to wander off and then we can’t find her,” she said.

Edwards said they have a few more free devices available to families that need and qualify for one.

“We want to get the word out in case there are other families that have called before and, because of finances, haven’t been able to sign up for the program,” Edwards said. They can call us now, but it is on a first come first serve basis.”

For more information, call Edwards at 408-3106 or Project Lifesaver at 1-877-580-5433 or go to www.projectlifesaver.org.

 

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