STAUNTON -- Students at Mary Baldwin College honored missing minority children on Tuesday night.
"She was only six years old," Dimon Brody said.
Brody is telling the story of Italia, her best friend's cousin, who went missing and was found dead.
"I was sitting at home watching TV and he called me crying," Brody said. "I was like, 'What's wrong, honey?' And he said, 'My little cousin died.'"
Brody is convinced that if police had responded sooner, Italia would be alive today.
"If there was an Amber Alert that went off immediately right then and there, they probably would have found her very immediately soon, gotten her medical help and just helped her survive," she said.
Brody was among those at Mary Baldwin College sharing her story Tuesday night, part of the MBC Black Student Alliance's "Black and Missing" event. Students lit candles and painted their faces in honor of missing minority kids - bringing attention so that they are not forgotten.
"We're of the opinion that whenever a child goes missing, whether they're black, white, Asian, Latina, that they're all important and that all children belong to us as a community of people and as a body of people," said Lisa Wilson of the Black Student Alliance, who helped organize the event.
"I look at every missing child as if they're my children," said Sgt. K. Scott Downs, Amber Alert Coordinator for Virginia State Police. Educating kids can make a big difference if they go missing, he said.
"If we can teach our children how to make themselves safe, we can make less missing children and prevent a lot of the missing children we already have in our system, and save a life," Sgt. Downs said. "Because that's our ultimate goal, is to save a life, and to make a family whole."
Downs said some information every kid should know: their full name, date of birth, address and their parents' names - not just "Mom" and "Dad." Knowing bits of information like that can go a long way, he says, if the kids go missing.
Meanwhile, Brody hopes others' stories do not turn out the way her friend's has turned out.
"To the next kid that goes missing," she said, "I pray to God that they find that next kid, safe, sound."
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