By Faith Toole
When I saw the post from the Brownsburg Police Department about a missing little boy who had Autism, my heart broke for the worry of his mom. 8-year-old Shalom Lawson and his mother were in Brownsburg to support an African relief fund being held over the weekend. They were here less than 24 hours when he went missing. Like so many members of our community, I wanted to do everything I could to help.
I heard there was a call-out for volunteers and knew they were going to need food and water. I reached out to Chief Christi Patterson with the Pittsboro Police Department and Alan Bolante, commissioner of the Brownsburg Police Department, volunteering my service to help coordinate.
A little after 10 a.m. I received a text reply, “Get it organized.”
My first thought was Jason and Sharon Anderson from the Kickstand: “Yes, we are already going to be there with food and drink for all the officers and volunteers.” Carl Chambers, executive chef with Cunningham Restaurant Group: “Here is your contact for Boulder Creek Dining Company. What can we do?”
I stopped into McCallister’s, they said: “yes, we would help with food.” I went to Arby’s: “Yes, come back in 20 min and we will have sandwiches ready.” Starbucks: “Yes, we will help.” Mike Johnson with Firehouse Subs: “Firehouse is bringing sandwiches.”
I also contacted people near the search area like Mike Lewis with Don Shumaker Racing: “Yes, I’m contacting security now. We will see what we can find.”
Everybody I went to said, “Yes, we will help.”
When I arrived at the middle school that morning, there looked to be 2000 volunteers ready to aid in the search. As I walked to the command center, I received a text to call-off the food, it was no longer needed. They had found this little boy, but it wasn’t the outcome that any of us wanted to hear.
Since I was already heading to the command center, I was asked to go to Creekside Commons for the press conference. So here I was, just a person wanting to help. I’m a food writer. I became a journalist. I wasn’t prepared.
I was standing in front of Shalom’s Uncle’s home as the command center pulled up. Then, I heard this heartbreaking cry. It was the mother of Shalom Lawson. Family members were holding her back. I will never forget that sight and sound.
I turned to give the family respect. As I turned around, here was a police captain, crying, walking towards me from the pond where Shalom’s body was discovered. All I could do was give him a hug. He kept saying that he was sorry for crying.
This has to be the hardest job for any first responder (plus, the journalists that have to cover these sad turn of events.)
Most of all, my heart goes out to the family, especially the mother of Shalom Lawson. Nothing can make up for the loss of a child, but there is something to be said about the way the community responded to the day’s events. I want to thank everyone who stepped forward to help. Thank you, Hendricks County.
Karen Hendershot of Project Lifesaver
We mourn the loss of such a young and innocent life.
As the coordinator for Project Lifesaver Hendricks County, I would like to take this opportunity to reach out to any family and caregiver with loved ones that may experience similar life-threatening situations. We provide tracking equipment to clients that can be worn on the wrist or ankle that emits a unique and individual frequency. In the event a client wanders away, first responders can quickly locate the whereabouts of your loved one using radio receivers.
This is a free service provided to families that can benefit from the program. It can even be used when traveling away from home. If you or someone you know can benefit from the services of Project Lifesaver, please contact us.
Karen Hendershot, Coordinator