OSWEGO, NY – Local author and speaker Lisa M. Buske recently traveled to San Antonio, Texas, to speak at The Heidi Search Center’s annual banquet.
This wasn’t Buske’s first interaction with the HSC.
Their relationship began in April 1994 – when the center sent a search and rescue expert to join the search for Buske’s sister, Heidi M. Allen.
Allen was kidnapped from the D & W Convenience Store while working alone on Easter Sunday, April 3, 1994.
Allen remains missing today, but her family remains hopeful.
So when the HSC contacted Buske about traveling to Texas for its event and shared its theme, “Hope,” Buske knew it was meant to be.
The HSC kicked off its “Hope Initiative Campaign” last August to raise funds for its non-profit organization.
Buske’s travels to and from Texas were adventurous, to say the least, due to the ice storm in Texas preventing her from arriving on time and then the storm hitting the northeast on her return home; it gifted her a couple more days in Texas to see some of the sights.
Buske arrived in San Antonio with enough time to travel from the airport directly to the banquet hall.
The HSC brought Buske to Texas to share hope and encouragement with the families of the missing in attendance.
“The center provided age progression photos for each family, memory books, a candle, and a tree decorating ceremony all to help keep the memory of their loved ones in the forefront,” Buske told Oswego County Today. “It was an evening of laughter and tears.”
She opened her time with memories of how the HSC sent Rick Benningfield to New York more than 19 years ago, and the impact he had on the investigation and search for her only sister, Heidi.
Buske said she never dreamed she’d have the opportunity in her lifetime to personally thank the HSC.
In an excerpt from her book (Expertise with a Texan Twist) she notes:
“…The Heidi Search Center was established after 11-year-old Heidi Seeman was kidnapped while walking home from her friend’s house on August 4, 1990. Heidi Seeman was their first case. Heidi Allen would be their 42nd case, and only the third from outside the state of Texas. The only cost to the family was for his travel, housing, and food expenses.
“It had only been four days – four days that felt like an eternity. Rick arrived on April 7. He came in with an expertise and gift for administration and delegation. He was able to make decisions too difficult for family members to deal with and he worked with the Sheriff’s investigators, FBI, and the hundreds of volunteers simultaneously.
“Rick complimented the organization and search efforts developed prior to his arrival. He was impressed with the number of contacts and flyers already circulating. I marveled at this man strolling through the door with his Texan hat and cowboy boots. Tall, thin, and tanned, he walked with an air of confidence.
“As I watched him work the room and finalize the transformation of the ‘Heidi Allen Command Center,’ I was suddenly exhausted. I needed a nap. I needed to sleep. Rick, determined and resourceful, provided a renewed hope and energy to the search. He came in, recognized the areas of weakness, and made the necessary changes without worrying about hurt feelings. He didn’t come to New York to make friends. He had one goal and purpose: to find Heidi.”
To share her appreciation, and that of her family, Buske presented the HSC and Heidi Seeman’s family with handcrafted wooden hearts made by her parents for them.
“I thought of how I could express our thanks and appreciation for all the Heidi Search Center, in Texas, did only days into the search and rescue efforts for my sister, Heidi Allen. I mentioned this to my parents and we decided to sleep on it. Well, I don’t know about you but some of my best ideas wake me up in the middle of the night – so of course this was no different,” Buske said. “I shared a VERY rough idea with my parents. Between my parents, husband and daughter – we created a working sketch. And, within a day or two – patterns were made and my father was at work in his woodworking shop. Mom joined with her woodburning and painting talents when the time came. So once again, my parents took an idea and made it reality.”
Buske’s parents, Ken and Sue Allen, shared their thoughts in creating the 2013 heart.
“Why a heart? It was your heart to help that sent us Rick to come along side law enforcement to educate, lead, and encourage us in our greatest time of need, in the initial days of looking for our Heidi,” they said in a prepared statement.
They included both states, New York and Texas with each state flowers – a rose for New York and the Blue Bonnet for Texas.
“The forget-me-not flowers are a reminder that both our Heidis will never be forgotten,” they added. “The photos of ‘our’ Heidis represent the pictures of our girls we forever hold in our hearts. And of course HOPE – because without Hope, what else do we have?”
The HSC’s theme for 2014 is HOPE: Help Other People Evolve.
HSC director, Crystal Calloway, and Buske brainstormed how the center’s event could be a blessing to the families in attendance.
One of the things that came out of their conversations was “Help Other People Evolve.”
Buske used this as a springboard and presented the families with a message of HOPE, encouragement, and motivation to move forward.
Buske said, “We need to remember our missing loved ones while moving forward and enjoying the family, friends and life we still have.”
One family was putting up its Christmas tree and decorating for the first time in more than a decade because of the way her message touched their hearts, Buske noted.
In addition to speaking at the banquet on Friday night, Buske visited the center on Monday morning before returning home.
Buske tears up still when she thinks about the way God brought Texas to New York in 94 and then allowed her the opportunity to bring New York to Texas nearly 20 years later.
Buske models it’s possible to survive tragedy and she shares this truth with others through her writing and speaking.
To learn more about Buske, her books, or speaking: http://LisaMBuske.com
Buske released her fourth book, No More Pain: I Can Fly, this month.
Her books are available at the river’s end bookstore in Oswego and on Amazon.com.
She blogs daily at http://www.lisambuske.com/blog.html
To learn more about the Heidi Search Center in San Antonio, visit http://heidisearchcenter.com/
For more information and to see what Heidi might look like today: http://oswegocountytoday.com/forensic-artist-depicts-what-heidi-allen-would-look-like-today/