VALERIE OSIER | STAFF WRITER
Children go missing in America every day.
They will be in the news for a few weeks, but they slowly drift out as new things happen.
But they are still missing and their families are still desperately looking for answers.
In the Race to Recover America’s Missing Children, the Fireball Run hosts an eight day, 2,000 mile, 14 city, life-size trivia pursuit game.
The game is played by 40 teams of business leaders, industry celebrities and elected officials.
The Fireball Run ended on Sept. 28, with the finish line in Downtown Riverside.
Each team races in their own car from the starting line in Longmont, Colo. to the finish line in Riverside. Each team was given 1,000 posters of a missing child from their hometown to hand out and post along the way.
They also had to complete “missions” in each main city they stopped in, ranging from charity projects, to taking pictures in a plane ride over Lake Powell.
Riverside Mayor, Rusty Bailey, was part of “Team Riverside,” one of the 40 teams participating in the race.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, very unique. A race to find America’s missing children, and bringing attention to something that doesn’t get enough attention.”
Since the Fireball Run started in 2007, it has directly aided in finding 42 missing children, including a brother and sister who were reportedly found a day before the Fireball Run ended this year.
Another girl was reportedly found a month ago, according to Kelly Kaminski, a two-time world champion cowgirl and participant in the race.
This was the f irst year Riverside was involved in the Fireball Run, and it has given the city a unique opportunity to be presented to over one million viewers through live streaming online.
“We submitted a bid,” said Larry Vaupel, Riverside’s Economic Development Manager. “(Fireball Run producers) came out for a sight visit, and we showed them around, the downtown really sold itself. It’s really important for Riverside because it gives us an opportunity to market Riverside as a destination for tourism, new residents and new businesses.”
Executive Producer of the Fireball Run, JJ Sanchez, said Riverside was a great location for the finish line of the race.
“Riverside was chosen be cause it ’s a fantastic destination,” said Sanchez.
“It’s economically robust, if you ask me. It’s everything visually Beverly Hills is, only without the traffic, and it has a kickass mayor.”
Despite the purpose of the Fireball Run, it’s mainly an online entertainment series though it is not network governed.
“We actually serve a charity in each official destination on top of aiding in awareness for missing kids,” said Sanchez.
“Fireball Run is three things: it’s a live event for the communities, it’s streamed live, and it’s filmed as part of an episodic series.”
The theme for this Fireball Run was “Al l Stars and Movie Cars.”
“Isn’t this epic? See how this pulls the community together,” said Sanchez, as he observed the event.
At the event there was a large car show featuring famous cars from movies, including two Batmobiles, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles van, the Back to the Future DeLorean, and many more.
The car show also featured dozens of classic cars lined up on University Avenue.
There was also a Wine and Brew Fest and several food trucks at the event, as well as live music.
The event ended with a parade, featuring all 40 teams’ cars used in the race.
While Team Riverside didn’t win any of the overall awards, Mayor Bailey and his partner, CEO of Champion Electric, Glenn Rowden, did win number one in the alternative class.
“We made a lot of great connections and we’re only one connection away from finding this kid, or another kid,” said Rowden. “So you never know where that connection’s going to come from, and the fact that we got a lot of opportunity to make new connections for (the missing
child from Riverside) and for Riverside, I think those will be lifelong connections.”
“Before I got here to participate in the Fireball Run, I read the story of our missing kid, and it was absolutely heartbreaking,” said Amy
Wilson, former Miss Rodeo America. “When you are reminded that so many children go missing every day that aren’t recovered, it hits you hard.”