BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
FARMINGTON — Again this year, the Davis Chamber of Commerce Women in Business came through with a check to fund Utah’s AMBER Alert program.
It was the largest check yet from the group, which has funded the project for the past four years.
The women presented a check to Attorney General John Swallow for $16,508 last Thursday from money raised at a western hoe-down in November. Over the years, the group has raised $50,000.
Paul Murphy, the state’s AMBER Alert coordinator, said that he was made aware of the amount on Monday, but it was a surprise to Swallow.
“What a powerful group this is,” Swallow said in accepting the check. “This is an unbelievably generous donation.”
Utah’s AMBER Alert is funded solely through donations, Murphy said.
This year’s donation from the women’s group will be used to create new posters for law enforcement agencies and media outlets that outline what needs to be done to issue an AMBER Alert and the Endangered Missing Advisory, Murphy said.
Part of it may also be used to provide a two-day training on AMBER Alerts and human trafficking.
“The Women in Business make this wonderful program a reality,” Murphy said. “Without their help, the Utah AMBER Alert program wouldn’t be where it is today.”
The group’s donations to the AMBER Alert program have been spearheaded through the years by Elaine Runyan-Simmons, a member of the organization and a child advocate.
Ruanyan-Simmons’s own daughter, Rachel Runyan, was kidnapped in 1982 from a park near her home in Sunset. Her body was later found at the park.
“As you know, I’m passionate about the AMBER Alert,” Runyan-Simmons said. “(When) my little Rachel was kidnapped in 1982, there was no such program. Just the postage alone to create flyers cost $10,000.”
When the program was started in Utah, it was called the Rachel Alert. The name was changed in April 2003, with the passage of the national AMBER Alert system by the U.S. Congress.
The program is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement, the media and transportation agencies to rapidly disseminate information about a suspect and victim to law enforcement and the public when a child has been abducted, a press release from the attorney general’s office said.
So far, the AMBER Alert has been responsible for the safe return of 17 children in Utah and 602 children nationwide.