Woman raises money for rescue agency on missing girl search

RAPID CITY, S.D. – After seeing the controversy surrounding the search for a missing girl, one woman decided bring some positivity to a potential tragedy.

The search for Serenity Dennard, a missing nine-year-old that ran away from the Black Hills Children’s Home on Feb. 3, is on pause.

According to Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, weeks of searching without results have taken a toll on rescue crews.

“They’re professionals and they do their jobs … but they’re also human beings,” Thom said.

Charlie Petrick, a former search and rescue volunteer herself, understands their pain.

“It goes through your heart,” Petrick said. “It stabs you as you’re looking: not knowing what you’re going to find – if you’re going to find [her].”

Through Facebook, Petrick organized a fundraiser for Pennington County Search and Rescue. As of Friday, she raised over $1,600 donated between 59 people.

Her post received a huge response with people donating across the country and expressing mixed reactions to the situation as a whole.

“I saw so many people that were praying and hoping and wishing; some that were aggravated and cussing and disenchanted with it.”

Petrick started the fundraiser as a way to combat the online negativity she saw pointed at volunteers, the Children’s Home and the family.

“I couldn’t imagine her parents and her grandparents and her aunts and uncles seeing that kind of stuff on a daily basis.”

She also added that “somebody saying that search and rescue should all be fired obviously doesn’t know that it’s a volunteer organization.”

Petrick believes the chance of Serenity surviving to today is infinitesimally small, but she refuses to give up hope.

“I believe in miracles and I think most people do. Whatever their higher power might be –    you never know, and I’m refusing to let myself think of the negative alternative,” Petrick finished.

For more information on how to donate, you can find Petrick’s fundraiser here.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News