Elizabeth Torres was facing her 50th birthday on June 2. She wanted it to be something special and not just for her.
A co-worker at the Hinesville Library told Torres about Project Lifesaver. That conversation, Torres said, ignited something in her heart.
Project Lifesaver, a nation-wide program designed to rescue people with cognitive conditions who tend to wander, works with law-enforcement agencies across the country. Clients wear a wristwatch-sized radio transmitter with a signal that can be tracked anywhere.
“I was curious about what that was, so I got the paper and read the article and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is wonderful,’” Torres said. “It touched my heart because one of our co-workers, years earlier in 2009, lost her mother-in-law, and it really broke my heart.”
Doris Langford, who had Alzheimer’s disease, wandered away from her Garden City home in March 2009. A community-wide search ensued, but Langford was found deceased. In May 2010, an elderly Bryan County man, Alzheimer's patient Elvin Mosley, also wandered away from his house and was later found dead. That prompted Bryan County to start the project.
In April 2011, Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes read about the project and developed the program in Liberty County. There are now four autistic Liberty County children enrolled.
Torres thinks Project Lifesaver could have saved Langford’s life.
“When I saw what happened to her and the way everything happened, it never left me,” Torres said. “They did not find her in time and that broke my heart. What I’m doing today I’m doing in her memory.”
In lieu of birthday gifts, Torres asked family to donate to Liberty County’s Project Lifesaver.
“I’ve wanted something that I could rally behind and support,” she said. “I don’t have a lot of money and I was thinking, ‘What could I do? How could I support something like this?’ …It finally came to me, and I thought instead of getting presents I would really prefer, since I don’t have a lot of money, and I didn’t care if the present was $5, $10, I just wanted to donate towards to Project Lifesaver. And I wanted the funds to go specifically to Liberty County, because this is where I live and where it would mean something to me.”
When the family started to gather for her mother’s 92nd birthday, just one week before hers, Torres learned her brother, Elijah Smith, made the first donation in her name, delivering a check for $250 to the LCSO. Torres met with LCSO Deputy Capt. David Edwards on June 6 and presented the check.
She said her other relatives started responding and plan to donate as well.
“It’s quite impressive…this will at least cover a device and probably a couple of batteries,” Capt. Edwards said. “This money will definitely help somebody out. It really humbles you to know that people are still able to bypass gifts and offer donations. It really helps the people out there that actually need it but can’t afford it at the time. She is from the community and she is giving back to the community so people in the community can benefit from her gift, it’s wonderful.”
To donate or for more information, call 408-3106. For information on Project Lifesaver, go to projectlifesaver.org.