Now this post is going to be different from what we regularly post. But this is something I feel I must share and ask of you to share too. I'll explain later why this hits so close to home to me (Wanda) in a bit.
NYC is going crazy searching for this 14 year old boy who is autistic and non-verbal. He was seen running out of his school on 10/4/13 in Queens, NY. Today is 10/11/13 a week later and he is still missing. Avonte has been spotted a few times and they mostly have been in the NYC Subway. So for those that live in NYC, take a good look at his pictures and keep your eyes open. If you see someone that looks like him, his family is asking to call out his name, follow him and alert authorities. There is a reward for finding him which is now $70,000.
Can you imagine the pain Avonte's mom must feel as well as his family? What is he eating? Where is he going to the bathroom? Where is he sleeping? Is he cold? Is he scared? These are all the questions that come to mind when I think of Avonte. Please help find Avonte.
Below you will find pictures and information:
The brothers of Avonte Oquendo, 14, of Queens, N.Y., say they are not giving up hope that their autistic brother will be found alive and well.
Friday marks one week since Oquendo disappeared.
The organization Autism Speaks is upping the reward for the safe return of the boy to $50,000.(NOW $70,000)
Avonte, who is is unable to speak, was spotted in security video leaving the Center Boulevard School on 51 Avenue in Long Island City at about 12:30 p.m. last week. He never made it home.
"He ran outside and no one ran after him to stop him," said Oquendo's mother, Vanessa Fontaine.
"He's not familiar with this area. He has only been coming to this school for a month," said Anthony Fontaine, Avonte's brother.
Police and family members believed they had a break in the case on Tuesday when witnesses reported seeing a boy fitting the description of Avonte.
The individual found, another missing boy from Harlem, was not Oquendo, according to family members.
The NYPD has been following several leads, including input from psychics, but none have panned out, said Anthony Fontaine.
The family says hundreds of people have turned out to a makeshift command center outside the school where Avonte ran from.
A security guard saw Avonte leave and didn't stop him.
"He should have followed by his job code. He failed," said Anthony Fontaine.
"What I thought as soon as I met Vanessa was that this cannot happen absent either an inappropriate system or negligently drawn up system or negligence on the part of someone at the school," said family attorney David Perecman.
They have filed a notice of claim against the Center Boulevard School.
Avonte has a very good understanding of the NYC bus system and is used to taking buses(However he doesn't know how to use them to get home.)
"He never rides the trains. But he loves trains. Any boy loves trains," said Vanessa Fontaine.
Among the place where investigators have been searching are train yards and MTA stations.
At the request of the NYPD, the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services issued a missing child alert.
"If you approach him, call his name. He doesn't like touch too much. He'll probably run. Try to keep him where's he's at," said Fontaine.
If you have any information about Oquendo, please contact the NYPD's Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS or www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.
I ask you to help by sharing this post, creating your own, twitting about Avonte. Using #Find Avonte Any social media post helps! Help bring back that smile to his family. Help bring Avonte home!
Now here's why I'm so passionate about Avonte.
First off, I'm a mother and I can't begin to understand the pain his mother and family is going through. Anyone with a heart would understand how important any missing child is, but an even more understanding person would know how a special needs child needs his family.
Secondly, my son has autism. Autism is a disorder that affects 1 in 88 children today! And at one point my boy was non-verbal and couldn't communicate just like Avonte. So this easily could have been ME.
And the same way I would ask for your help for my own child, I ask you to help with Avonte. I can imagine how scared his mother must feel for her boy. So finding Avonte is something that I pray for every single night. So I ask you all to please share information regarding Avonte via Facebook (#findavonte), Twitter (#findavonte), Blog, Instagram. Any way to get the message across.
Below are some links for more information.