For the eighth straight year, volunteers with the North Carolina-based CUE Center for Missing Persons are traveling across the country to raise awareness about more than 100 cases of unsolved homicides and missing people.
The team will be departing Wilmington, N.C., on Oct. 21. Between then and Oct. 29, they will travel roughly 4,000 miles and make 20 pre-planned rally stops in seven states.
The annual tour, called "On the Road to Remember," was created to generate new interest in cold cases of missing people across the nation.
"After so many years, these cases fade from the public's radar, but for the families and friends of a murdered or missing person, the nightmare continues -- every minute of every day their loved one is absent," said CUE founder Monica Caison.
The inspiration for the tour came in 2004, from the case of Leah Roberts. The North Carolina college student had gone on a cross-country trip of self-exploration. Her wrecked and abandoned vehicle was found, but Roberts' remains were missing.
Roberts' case went cold and interest quickly faded until CUE volunteers set out on a grueling 14-day trip to retrace her route and inform the media about her case.
The tour's mission was to gain national attention for Roberts' case. That goal was accomplished when it landed in People magazine and on the "Larry King Show." Afterward, families from across the country voiced the need for more help and supported the tour idea.
"We are traveling across the country to make sure that no case fades from memory and to remind the public that all families are in need of a resolution. They need our help and the community's help to bring forth justice and [to bring] those missing home," Caison said.
In keeping with the tradition of the tour, an honoree is selected each year. This year's honoree is Troy Spencer Marks. A 39-year-old from Louisiana, Marks disappeared from New Orleans in June 2006.
"Each year as we begin preparation for the tour, we are reminded of the overwhelming numbers of unsolved cases from across the country," Caison said. "The cases we feature are a very small number compared to the NCIC statistics numbering 700,000 to 850,000 cases reported annually, but I'm confident we will make a difference in those we represent."
Caison has dedicated her life to the plight of missing people and their loved ones. She became an advocate for the missing after being exposed to the families of missing people at least three times before she was 25 years old. In 1994, Caison founded the CUE Center, which focuses on finding the missing, advocating for the cause and supporting the affected families.
Since its inception, CUE has helped more than 10,000 families. The nonprofit organization is funded entirely by donations and staffed by dedicated volunteers.
The public and media are invited to attend each of the tour stops. CUE will be distributing promotional items and will have families on hand for interviews. For full tour dates, times and locations, as well as a complete listing of cases featured on the tour, visit CUE on the web at www.ncmissingpersons.org.
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