The Islanders and National Center for Missing & Exploited Children have once again teamed up to raise awareness for the growing number of active cases of lost, kidnapped and abused youths. On Thursday, Mar. 7, $2 will be donated to the NCMEC for every ticket sold to the Islanders’ home game against the New York Rangers. Islanders Owner Charles Wang has generously committed to personally matching the total from the $2 ticket donation.
On hand for the ceremonial puck-drop will be Katie Beers, a Long Island native who herself was a victim of abduction and abuse.
Beers was held captive as a nine-year-old for 16 days by a family acquaintance in a high-profile 1992 case. Now 30-years-old, she has since married and become a mother of two. Additionally, she has dedicated herself to being a voice for those who have endured such mental and physical trauma.
“I’m excited to join the Islanders and NCMEC in Thursday’s benefit,” Beers said. “The two organizations have been at the forefront of raising awareness for the cause. Their efforts ensure that stories like mine will become less frequent. It’s an honor to participate in this as we help fight for our cause.”
Beers avoided the public eye for 20 years following the incident, but in 2008 was approached to write a memoir and tell the story of her abuse and recovery. It culminated with the launch of her book Buried Memories: Katie Beers’ Story, as well has her motivational speaking career. The hope is to inspire victims in circumstances similar to Katie’s.
“You always want some assurance that it will get better after you’ve been abused,” Beers said. “I was called a liar when I first told my grandmother. I gave up quickly, but should have told someone else.”
“There are people out there you can go to, but the first person won’t always be the one to do something about it. You can’t stop until you get the help you need – and there are people who will help you.”
Thus, the inception of NCMEC. Founded in 1984 by America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh, the organization serves as the nation's clearinghouse on issues related to missing and sexually exploited children. They actively work with law enforcement, families and the professionals who serve them to circulate cases of missing children and aid in recovering them.
The aim, says Beers, is to not only close active cases of missing children, but to educate parents and youths on preventative measures.
“It’s a matter of being aware of your surroundings,” Beers continued. “We’re trying to make people aware that it isn’t just strangers looking to do harm to children. It’s the people around us that kids are more comfortable with, like friends and family members.”
Last season’s event saw the Islanders raise over $50,000 for the cause as they skated past the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-3. Walsh says the donations have gone a long way towards ensuring the safety of children everywhere:
“Children are the future of our country and no matter whom you are, we have a responsibility to protect them,” Walsh said. “We are forever grateful to Charles Wang and the Islanders for sharing our commitment. We look forward to doing it again this year. Last season’s event at the Islanders game was a huge success in raising awareness and funds for NCMEC.”