RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – A little known non-profit under the Virginia Department of Emergency Management is helping folks all across Central Virginia find and rescue their loved ones.
Piedmont Search and Rescue volunteers spend their own time and money and donations they get on missions finding people who are lost.
The organization is always looking for new volunteers and money to be able to continue helping the public.
This year so far, volunteers have been called out for 50 missions.
When Cabo Fish Taco owner Corey Harris isn’t cooking up tacos or making margaritas for his customers, he’s on missions for Piedmont Search and Rescue.
“For me, it’s that they say, you know, they find like the biggest briar patch in the woods, and they’re like Corey, just go walk through that,” he said. “And that’s pretty much my job.”
Most of the time, Harris is looking for dementia patients that have wandered off.
“Your grandma or grandpa, they, you know, just happen to walk out of the house and so we’re out looking for them and it’s always nice to be able to bring them home,” Harris said.
The volunteers are called to help with anything and everything all across Central Virginia and sometimes even further.
“The hardest ones are always with children, when the family is around, when there’s just a lot of emotion,” Harris explained.
Piedmont Search and Rescue commander Chris Edwards said volunteers have spent more than 1,500 hours away from their own families helping people reunite theirs this year alone.
They’re working in the wee hours of the morning, in the heat and in the cold.
“When somebody calls and says hey, my 3-year-old has been missing for two hours. I don’t know where he is. You want somebody, as a parent, you want somebody to show up,” Edwards said.
The volunteers are the ones that show up, looking for people who may have dementia, autism or maybe a hiker that never came back when they said they would.
“I’m a father of three and it absolutely is in the back of my mind if we’re out there looking for a 10-year-old that’s been missing for several hours,” Edwards explained. “You know, you start kind of thinking about your own kids.”
When they do find those loved ones, Harris said there’s no better reward.
“I wouldn’t know how to describe it,” he said. “It’s just a wave of different emotions. You’re excited, you’re happy, you’re relieved.”
For the month of September, one dollar of every Bells and New Belgium beers that Cabo Fish Taco sells will go to Piedmont Search and Rescue.
Cabo Fish Taco is also having a fundraising dinner from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday.