Blue ribbons have story to tell

Published 9:29 pm Saturday, March 21, 2009

There’s a story behind the Blue Ribbons that will soon be prominent around Troy and Pike County and Mona Watson, Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center director, will be happy to tell the story a hundred times over if it will help prevent just one incident of child abuse.

The Blue Ribbon campaign is a fundraiser for the local CAC and the funds raised from the salt of the Blue Ribbon streams and tee shirts will be used to raise awareness of child abuse and to take the message of child abuse prevention to the local schools.

“Once you hear the story of how the Blue Ribbon Campaign began, the Blue Ribbons will have much more meaning and, hopefully, inspire people to support the campaign,” Watson said. “In 1989 a grandmother in Virginia tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her van ‘to make people wonder.’ And, when they asked, she told them a tragic story about the abuse of her grandchildren, which ultimately led to the brutal death of her grandson.”

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The grandmother told of sitting by her grandson’s side in the hospital, knowing something was wrong. The bruises on his body, the cigarette burns on his hands were indicators of abuse. The doctors didn’t believe her daughter’s story that the youngster slipped and fell in the bathtub.

“After the ordeal in the hospital, the little boy was put in foster care for three weeks,” Watson said. “He cried when they came to take him back to his mother. The grandmother was not physically able to care for him. She never saw him.”

The story has a tragic ending. The lady’s 16-month-old granddaughter was hospitalized after being severely beaten. Her leg was broken in four places and her hand was burned from the tip of her little finger to her wrist.

“Three months later, her brother was found dead in a swamp,” Watson said. “He has been killed, wrapped in a sheet and stuffed in a toolbox and dumped. The grandmother’s life was in chaos. Her efforts to understand became a plea to stop abusing children. She tied a blue ribbon on her van to make people wonder, ask.”

When asked why, the distraught grandmother said that she never intended to forget the battered, bruised bodies of her grandchildren.

“Blue serves as a constant reminder to fight for the protection of our children,” Watson said. “Since that first Blue Ribbon was tied to that grandmother’s van, millions of people across the country have participated in Blue Ribbon campaigns. Here in Troy and Pike County we have an opportunity to participate and, in so doing, help prevent incidents like this from happening.”

The Blue Ribbon Campaign tee shirts are $10 and the Blue Ribbon streamers for doors and mailboxes are $10 also.

The tee shirts and ribbons may be purchased by calling the CAC at 334-670-0488.