I woke up this morning and turned on the TV like normal. Part of the morning ritual of catching up on the news and trying to convince myself that I can make it to the gym on time.  Today however, I just sat and watched. I remembered my EAS going off on my phone last night with the report of a little girl who had been abducted. Before the thought of, "I hope there's some good news about that little girl" could make it through my head...the reporter was already breaking the news to me, Hailey Owens was gone.

It's heartbreaking. I can't even begin to imagine how a family deals with something like this. Everything in my being wants to believe that evil like this couldn't exist in this country, let alone in my own hometown...but it does.

Normally, I wouldn't think about myself at all in a situation like this. If I had just about any other job, I'd go on with my day today and probably have some conversations about how sad and sickening it all is. I'd keep checking the TV and Facebook looking for and more information on how something so horrible could happen. Mostly, I'd just keep to myself and not say a whole lot other than silent prayers for this family who had a little girl stolen from their lives. I don't have a job that allows me to do that though...I'm supposed to be an entertainer. I know I make light of the fact quite often that I don't have a job that requires any "real" work. That I rarely have to take anything seriously. That's true...to a point.

I don't have to take anything seriously...but I do. I take people's hurt and sorrow seriously. I worry that talking with a little too much cheeriness in my voice about some contest or song that doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, might be heard by a member of Hailey's family and make them feel, for a second, that their community doesn't love and care about them. I worry that by pushing on and doing the job I'm supposed to do; being excited about contests, concerts, and the music we all love...that I'll come off like I don't care about this tragedy. I worry that if I go the other direction and bring an aire of doom and gloom to the airwaves, someone who might have been part of this little girl's life might think I'm trying to capitalize on this tragedy and be brought down even lower than they already are.

I know most people would say that I'm completely overthinking this whole situation. I'm just a guy who plays Led Zeppelin, & Lynyrd Skynyrd all day. A guy who gives away concert tickets. A guy who stands on a parkling lot and wants you to "come out and see the great deals" on a Saturday afternoon. Truth is...I AM that guy. I'm also the guy who didn't want to believe what he saw on the news this morning. I'm the guy who felt vengeful rage when he heard about the piece of human excriment who committed this unthinkable act. I'm the guy who cried a little on his way to work this morning over the little girl he'd never met named Hailey. 

Here is some information about the candlelight vigil that will be held in Hailey's honor this Saturday on Commercial Street.  


Memorial Fund at Empire Bank

A family member opened up a fund at Empire Bank for the family of Hailey Owens. Visit any Empire Bank location to donate. Call 881-3100 for more information about the fund.

We also wanted to share some information about talking to your kids about these events. Springfield Public Schools has provided the following tips to help parents talk to their kids about what has happened.  

From the Springfield Public Schools

"As three of our schools have been directly impacted by a recent event, The SPS guidance and counseling department shares the following tips for parents to help students who are experiencing crisis."

• Keep your child informed and updated. Children need to feel involved and as in control as much as possible.
• Watch for signs of distress. Loss of appetite, aggression, acting out, being withdrawn, sleeping disordered and other behavior changes can indicate problems.
• Send your child to school if possible. The stability and routine of a familiar situation will help young people feel more secure.
• Remember that everyone reacts to stress and/or grief in different ways. There is no one way to act in a crisis situation.
• Allow children the opportunity to express feelings. It is important to validate these feelings.
• A good diet and plenty of exercise are important for children who are under stress. Encourage your child to eat well and get plenty of exercise.
• Be honest about your own concerns, but stress your and your child's ability to cope with the situation.
• Respect a child's need to grieve.
• Provide somewhere private and quiet for your child to go.
• Be available and listen to your child.
• Remember to take care of yourself.