Family of missing man still searching
By Wes Wade | (email@example.com)
Friends and family members of a missing Happy Valley man held their second annual “Hike for Mike” Saturday morning in memory of the disappearance.
An estimated 120 people gathered at the Happy Valley Community Club, and 77 of them participated in the two-mile hike in remembrance of Mike Hearon, who went missing three years ago.
His family considered the day a success.
“I appreciate everybody coming out,” Mike’s mother, Sue Hearon, said. “I’m real pleased with the turnout. We’re just trying to keep this family alive, and in our own way, we’re still searching for him.”
Mike’s daughter-in-law, Jamey Hearon, said they had about the same number of people show up to last year’s hike, but that the weather this year was much more accommodating for the Abrams Creek Campground outing.
Kacie Hearon, Mike’s other daughter-in-law, agreed. She explained that last year it had rained earlier in the morning before the hike, which led to soggy trail conditions.
“I think this year probably turned out better than last year,” Kacie said. “We, for one, knew what we were doing, and the weather was better.”
While the Blount County Sheriff’s Office is still actively investigating Mike’s disappearance, no evidence of foul play has ever surfaced. But Mike’s family said they know he wouldn’t have just left without as much as a word.
“We feel like it’s (foul play),” Mike’s son, Andy, said. “There’s just things I know he would have done and taken care of if he was going to do something.”
The Hearons have used the Internet to reach out to other agencies, organizations and individuals who’ve dealt extensively with missing-person cases. Among them, America’s Most Wanted and a nonprofit called “Project Jason,” which helped the family develop ideas for events like Saturday’s hike.
Jamey said the family raised enough money Saturday to post a billboard in town as part of an awareness campaign. While they have enough money to leave the sign up for a month, they’re hoping to raise enough funds through additional donations to renew the space for as long as possible.
“That was something we just came up with to do this year,” Jamey said. “(To) kind of try something new, put his face out there for people who may know something.”
At this point, the group thinks their most likely chance of getting the answers they so desperately want is for someone to come forward with information.
“That’s the only way we’re going to find out what happened,” Kacie said. “We’ve already exhausted all our (resources) so it’s going to have to come from outside resources to get any answers.”
And although he wasn’t there for the birth of Andy and Kacie’s new 6-month-old son, Abram, they know Mike would have made an excellent grandparent. It’s something he talked a lot about, they said. Fortunately, Mike’s namesake will live on as Abram’s middle name, “Michael.”
“I think (Mike) would have been an excellent grandfather,” Andy said. “I just know he would. He’d already been talking about how he was going to build him a cabin on the property and have a pool for the baby — he was going to take the baby up to the pool for a swim — he had a lot of plans.”
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the “Find Mike Hearon Awareness Campaign” can do so by sending an email to (firstname.lastname@example.org) Jamey says within a few weeks they hope to add a link to the campaign’s website, http://www.findmikehearon.com , to accommodate online contributions.