A parade to celebrate the recovery of a missing child was hosted in downtown Sedalia Saturday morning in honor of Beck Hotsenpillar, 5, of Springfield. It’s a story with a happy ending, an ending that many times concludes in tragedy.
In 2014, Sedalians Ron Ditzfeld and Rick Yeager, driving as the Trailblazers team in Fireball Run, were assigned Beck Hotsenpillar by the National Missing Children’s Network. The show is an online television adventure program, where 40 teams travel 2,000 miles and compete for points.
Hotsenpillar, at age 2, was taken in a non-custodial parent abduction. While driving for the show Ditzfeld and Yeager left fliers with Hotsenpillar’s photo and information along the route that led from Texas to Missouri.
According to information provided by the Sedalia Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Linda Christle, a local volunteer, also worked extensively on the missing child element of Fireball Run. She organized a toolbox auction which raised funds to aide in awareness that helped to lead to the recovery of Hotsenpillar.
On Saturday, Hotsenpillar led the parade as Grand Marshal, riding in Sedalia Fire Department Rosenbauer Platform Truck No. 2 and sitting with Mayor Stephen Galliher. Before going on the parade route in downtown Sedalia, he and his family stopped by SFD Headquarters to check out Firetruck No. 2 where he was given a firefighter’s hat by Battalion Chief Mike Hawkins.
Hotsenpillar was accompanied by his mother Autumn Breci, brother Sage Parker, 2, grandmother, Felicia Breci and aunt, Amelia Breci, 10.
His mother said he was doing “very well” since his return in September from Fayetteville, North Carolina.
“We got a call the 2nd of September,” his grandmother said at the fire station. “So we are looking right at two months now.”
Autumn said information distributed by Fireball Run did helped with her son’s recovery but other sources were at play as well.
” …It was actually a tip through the (U.S.) Marshal’s Service that got him home,” she noted.
Although he knew he was coming to Sedalia, he didn’t know about riding on the fire truck until Saturday morning his mother said.
Mayor Stephen Galliher was there at the fire station to shake Hotsenpillar’s hand.
“Not all these stories have a happy ending to them,” Galliher noted. “It’s just nice to see Beck come home safe and sound. It’s nice to be able to do something nice for him too. It’s just a great day, a beautiful sunny weekend, and the smile on that boy’s face when he sees the firetruck.
“I know his family’s happy. It’s just a happy, happy ending to a bad situation. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
Galliher also thanked the SFD for letting Hotsenpillar ride in the truck.
“It’s every boy’s dream,” he added.
“We are happy he was able to make it,” SFD Battalion Chief Hawkins said. “We are proud to have him on our truck and have him in the parade. It’s a good day for it, it’s a beautiful day for October.”
Downtown, right before the parade began, both Yeager and Ditzfeld said they were happy things turned out well for Hotsenpillar and his family.
“We’re just thrilled, thrilled, that the opportunity has presented itself, that Beck has been returned to his custodial mother,” Yeager said. “Sedalia wants to honor Beck today. It’s not about us, it’s not about anything else, this is all about Beck. We want to let him know how strong we were pulling for him to be recovered.”
“I think it’s one of the greatest experiences I’ve been involved in,” Ditzfeld added. “Rick and I felt like it was a blessing that the fliers got the knowledge out. To be able to see this child come back home to his mother it a great blessing. It did a lot of good, I think.
“I hope he enjoys the welcome home here in Sedalia,” he said. “Sedalia stepped up to the plate. They came out and supported the Fireball Run when Rick and I came through town. It was one of those things where the stars lined up.”
“It’s a beautiful day,” Carolyn Crooker, SACVB executive director, said. “We’re so happy that this is the conclusion from the child that our Trailblazers had in the Fireball Run. This is something to celebrate about.”
The parade route led north on Ohio Avenue and then west along Third Street to Liberty Park, where everyone could enjoy hot dogs, a bounce house and a trip on the Sedalia Sunrise Optimist Liberty Flyer train.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or on Twitter @flbemiss.