For the past 19 years, Theresa Lewis has held a vigil for her daughter Teekah on the day she disappeared.
This year, on the 20th anniversary of the day Teekah went missing, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) is renewing its commitment to her case by relaunching its Homeward Bound program.
In partnership with Kam-Way trucking, new semi-trailers will feature the posters of missing children as they travel across the region.
“The Homeward Bound program is dedicated to finding children who have gone missing in Washington State. These new Homeward Bound trucks have the ability to affect outcomes in the lives of the children who have gone missing. By increasing exposure to their cases, we also increase the chance of a possible recovery,” says Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. Adding, “The men and women behind this program have an unwavering dedication to these missing children, and are committed in their efforts to find them.”
According to the Washington State Patrol’s Missing Persons Unit Program, there are 203 active cases in Washington State where a child has been missing for more than two years.
The Homeward Bound program first began as a public oriented project spearheaded by Trooper Renee Padgett in 2005.
Trooper Padgett had a vision of creating a program to help locate missing kids. Due to the high visibility of commercial vehicles, Trooper Padgett’s idea was to place large images of missing children on the sides of semi-trailers. Her work and dedication to the program helped reunite many families.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 1 out of 6 children are recovered due to the public viewing a picture.
The trucking company that worked with Trooper Padgett eventually moved locations, ending the Homeward Bound program. However, earlier this year, Kam-Way trucking contacted the Washington State Patrol looking for a way to help start it up again. Through their generous funding and support, the Homeward Bound program now has new semi-trailers that will once again display the images of missing children. The first child to be featured: Teekah Lewis.
In partnership with Kam-Way Trucking, the WSP will unveil the new trailer at Teekah’s 20th annual candlelight vigil ( January 23, 2019).
The new trucks also hold another special meaning for the Washington State Patrol.
Late last year, Trooper Renee Padgett – who started the Homeward Bound program – lost a years-long battle with cancer. For the six years prior to her passing, Trooper Padgett – along with all of her friends, family, and supporters – were actively involved in Be the Match— an organization that helps find donors for those fighting life-threatening blood cancers.
The back of the new Homeward Bound trailers will also feature a remembrance to Trooper Renee Padgett.