More than 100 Com­munity members joined to search for Jace Lyon on Friday morning | Emily Blatter

It wasn’t just law enforcement who found Jace Lyon on January 20, it was the entire Hillsdale com­munity.

As police scoured the area for the 9-year-old, they were aided by nearly 200 vol­un­teers from the com­munity, in addition to an anony­mously-donated $5,000 ransom.

“You see missing kids all the time and of course it makes you feel sad, but this one being so close to home made my heart sink,” com­munity member Kathryn Watkins said in a Facebook message. “As a mother of two myself, I started to panic thinking that could be one of my babies.”

Watkins attends Hillsdale Beauty College, which gave stu­dents the day off if they wanted to help with the search.

“It was cold and rainy but I didn’t even care,” Watkins said. “All I could think about was Jace curled in a ball some­where scared and, if he was, then he was colder and wetter than me.”

Watkins was just one of many vol­un­teers who trudged through rain to search for Lyon on Friday.

After hearing of the missing child, Director of Campus Security and Emer­gency Man­agement William Whorley acti­vated the Hillsdale College Emer­gency Response Team, sending 21 stu­dents out on college property to search for Jace.

Led by Whorley and senior Hank Prim, the search gave the team real-life expe­rience, said Whorely, and involved them with the com­munity.  

“While the student pop­u­lation may not be tran­sient,” Whorely said, “they’re still a part of the Hillsdale com­munity.”

More was donated than just eyes and ears, though. Dona­tions of food, water, and hand warmers poured in for vol­un­teers.

Some of these dona­tions landed at Key Oppor­tu­nities, the home base for those searching due to its close prox­imity to Field of Dreams.

“Within probably 15 minutes, our com­munity stepped up and started bringing dona­tions for the people who were out searching,” said Julie Boyce, exec­utive director of Key Oppor­tu­nities.

Among the busi­nesses that donated were Bigby Coffee, Market House, Godfrey Brothers, Inc., McDonald’s, and H and R Block. Indi­vidual cit­izens also donated.

Lisa Nave, manager of H and R Block in Jonesville, Michigan, said she was worried and scared when she heard Jace was missing.

“I couldn’t imagine a nine-year-old being out there by himself,” she said.

Still, many expressed awe at the com­munity out­pouring.

“I think so many times we go and push through our day-to-day lives and don’t think about what’s hap­pening with other people,” said Boyce. “This is a time when there was a time of need and everybody just stepped up.”

Watkins wants Jace to know his com­munity loves him.

“I hope he can see that after the search efforts and never forgets it,” she said. “So often these sit­u­a­tions don’t have a happy ending and it was very relieving that this one does.”


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Jordyn Pair
Jordyn Pair is from Milford, Michigan and plans to study Rhetoric and Public Address and Journalism. She has previously written for Spinal Column and The Madonna Herald, Madonna University's school newspaper. She enjoys writing, photography, and videography, as well as choir, martial arts, and blogging. She plans to pursue a career in journalism. email: | twitter: @jordynpair