Keeping Hope Alive: Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 8:01 PM CST
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WISCONSIN (WEAU) - May 1979. That’s when Dona Mae Bayerl of Muskego was last seen. Her daughter, Jackie Kort, was four years old.

“I lived most of my life without really having anybody to talk about it to,” said Kort.

In 2019, Kort’s father was convicted of killing her mother and sentenced to life in prison.

“One of those unusual cases because my mom is still missing. We are still looking for her. I still want answers,” she said.

However, a post-conviction relief hearing is scheduled for February, which means depending on what the judge decides, there could be a new trial.

“Just because there was a trial and a sentencing doesn’t mean family walked away with closure,” said Jackie Kort.

Kort now lives in Texas and got involved with Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy, Inc. several years ago after the organization’s founder reached out.

“We grew a connection pretty quickly, both having mothers who have been missing,” she said.

As one of the board members and volunteers for Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy, Inc., Kort says the organization hopes to bring a voice to the missing, while also supporting the families impacted.

“We can validate feelings. We can connect with families, and share and connect them to resources available in Wisconsin,” she said.

Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy started in August 2017. The nonprofit is not a search team, but it does distribute information about missing persons.

“We believe each share can get to a person that may have information and bring some answers to families missing a loved one,” said Kort.

Kort encourages people not just to share the group’s Facebook posts, but to really look at those missing person fliers.

“Take a really good look at it. Is it a town you live in? Is it a town you have relatives in? Is it somewhere you travel to often,” she said.

In 2020, Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy posted 456 missing people. 408 of those were found, but 48 of those remaining missing, and that’s just last year alone.

Kort says no matter how much times passes, “I believe there’s hope in finding your loved one, bringing them home.”

Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy will never let a loved one be forgotten.

April is Missing Persons Awareness Month in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy, Inc. usually hosts an event during that time in Green Bay. Due to COVID, last year’s event and this year’s event were canceled.

In place of the awareness event, the organization is holding an online event called Lights of Hope. Lights of Hope is an event where anyone, anywhere can participate in bringing HOPE to families of the Missing.

Participants will make a luminary from their own home. Everyone is asked to make luminaries in honor of the missing, in honor of a missing person, or to write words of encouragement and support for the families of the missing.

Participants will take a photo and share the luminaries here on April 10th. Click here for more information about Lights of Hope.

Click here to learn more about Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy, Inc.

To follow the organization on Facebook, click here.

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