DNA ID effort draws hundreds

By Lynn R. Parks

So many families showed up at I.G. Burton Chevrolet Saturday to have their children fingerprinted and photographed that the car dealership is planning a second DNA Lifeprint child safety event Saturday, Jan. 23. "We had more people there than we could handle," Randy Sharr, general manager of I.G. Burton in Seaford, said Monday. "We had no idea that there was such a demand for something like this. We were overwhelmed." All 300 home DNA identification kits that DNA Lifeprint brought to the event were handed out, Sharr said. In addition, 180 people were put on a waiting list for the kits. Parents waited up to three hours to get their children photographed and fingerprinted, Sharr said. The event, scheduled to last from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., went until 5 p.m. The fingerprints, photographs and DNA kits were provided to parents for free. I.G. Burton paid about $4,000 to sponsor the event. Additional donations came from Kirby and Holloway and Entenmanns, which provided food, Barton's Grand Rental Station, which provided chairs, Eastern Shore Coffee, television stations WBOC and WMDT and Clear Channel radio station Q105, Ocean City. "Doing something like this kind of shoots our Saturday sales, and that's normally our busiest day," Sharr said. "But obviously the community needed this. We have always been a company that gives back to the community. I think it's important and maybe the next time these people are thinking about buying a car, they'll think of us." The event, which was scheduled in November, follows on the heels of two high-profile and local cases involving child abuse: the kidnapping and death of 11-year-old Sarah Foxwell, who lived in Pittsville, Md., and the alleged abuse of up to 100 patients by Lewes pediatrician Earl Bradley. Both cases were on people's minds Saturday as they waited to have their children fingerprinted and photographed. "It's important to do something like this to help the children," said Mina Wright, Seaford, who was there with her grandson, Christian, 2. "You never think that bad things will happen where you are, but they do. We never thought that something would happen in Salisbury, but look at what happened." "I want to have this done, just in case something happens to him," added Christian's mother, Kimberly Wright, Seaford.

"We'll have his fingerprints and picture so if something happens, police could start a search right away." Thomas Brannon, Bridgeville, was there with his daughter, Cassie, 9. Brannon, who works for the sheriff's office in Wicomico County, Md., said that he took part in the search to find Sarah Foxwell. Sarah's body was found Christmas Day in a woods east of Delmar. "We worked long hours, hoping to bring her home safely," he said. When that didn't happen, "it affected everyone with the sheriff's office pretty hard." Brannon said that he was surprised by the number of people crowded into Burton Chevrolet's showroom Saturday afternoon. The number of people participating shows how concerned the community is for its children, he added. It also shows how anxious parents are to feel that they are doing everything they can to protect their families. "I think we should have more events like this," he said. Gene Rothenburger, Lewes, is a retired policeman from Bergen County, N.J., and a special investigator with the Delaware Attorney General's office. On Saturday, he attended the DNA Lifeprint event with his grandchildren Braydon Brown, 8 months, and Brianne Brown, 5. "It is good to have all this information at your fingertips, if something happens to your child," he said. The Lifeprint kit also comes with a form on which parents can write down identifying information about the child. "I would rather be safe than sorry," said Isaac Giles, Bridgeville, who was there with his son, Isaiah, 3. Giles and his wife, Christina, are "trying to do whatever we can to keep Isaiah safe," he added. Ruth Rankin, Seaford, brought her three children to the event. She watched as her daughter, Bethany, 8, and her son, Frank Bolles, 13, were fingerprinted and photographed, then held her son, Tyler, 2, on her lap while DNA Lifeprint worker Timra Stump took his fingerprints and picture. "You hear so much on the news," Rankin said. "This just seems like a good idea."

For your information I.G. Burton will hold a second DNA Lifeprint child safety event Saturday, Jan. 23, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. For information, call (302) 839-0072.

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