Former missing child and recently-recovered five-year-old Beck Hotsenpillar, sporting a blue Star Wars T-shirt and a bright red Sedalia Fire Department honorary helmet, presided as grand marshal for a parade held on his behalf in downtown Sedalia Saturday morning.

Sedalia Mayor Stephen J. Galliher held Beck in his lap as they both sat in the SFD's gigantic T-2 pumper and rescue truck, riding from 6th and Ohio to Liberty Park, where the celebration continued. His mother and young brother Sage sat on the opposite side of the truck.

Sedalia Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Carolyn Crooker helped organize the parade, which kicked off at 11 a.m. Prior to the parade, Beck was given a tour of the new fire station on W. 16th.

According to the Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce, the connection with Beck began in 2014 with Fireball Run, an online TV show adventure, where 40 teams traveling 2,000 miles competing for points much like Trivial Pursuit. Their most important mission is handing out fliers along the way bringing awareness to help authorities locate missing children.

Ron Ditzfeld and Rick Yeager are the Sedalia Trailblazers team, and were assigned to Beck Hotsenpillar by the National Missing Children’s Network. Beck had been taken by a non-custodial parent when he was two years old. Through a partnership with Fireball Run, Sedalia Convention/Visitors Bureau and the City of Sedalia, the entire community came out to make the film a huge success.

 

"This is so awesome," Yeager commented just prior to the start of the parade. "It's a dream come true that we could actually recover and hand in hand in recovering Beck to his his rightful, custodial parents in Springfield, Mo. We're here today to honor Beck's return and have Sedalia show him what we're all about, running through the countryside during the Fireball Run, putting out the flyers, getting awareness out (there). And I guess due to some leads we had, and some things that were done by the money raised by the Sedalia group, one of the pictures of him were brought forward, (showing) what he would look like today, and that's what led to his recovery," he said.

The Sedalia Trailblazers team drove about 2,000 miles distributing fliers on Beck's situation in 2014, driving a black Chevrolet ZL1.

"I fell really, really proud to have been a part of this," Yeager said, adding that Beck was only two years old when he went missing. "The poor little guy has had a pretty rough first few years, to be ripped away from his custodial mother, then taken to the East Coast, then  pulled away from his non-custodial father and then back to his mother. We sure hope he recovers well and moves right on and has a great life."

Saturday was the first day Yeager met Beck in person. That moment took place at Liberty Park, shortly after the parade, along with Ditzfeld.

"I didn't want to disrupt his return to normal life in Springfield by going down there," Yeager said, adding that Beck returned to Springfield just a few short weeks ago.  "We cautiously talked to his mother about coming up here today and being a part of this parade, and she thought that'd be a wonderful thing for him and them. So we said, okay let's do this."

 

At Liberty Park, Beck rode the Liberty Flyer with his mother and younger brother. He also jumped around joyfully along with other kids, in a bounce house supervised by Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Angie Thomas. The Chamber was also giving away blue T-shirts emblazoned with the Fireball logo on the front and a colorful "Be Our Guest! Sedalia, Mo." logo on the back. The Chamber recently helped assemble a "Welcome Home" gift basket for the family after it was announced he was found safe at the end of August.

"Race Car" Bob Hiller and Maybelle Koeller showed off their newly-updated and street-legal DARE car in the parade and at the park. Beck was invited to climb in and experience the feel of a a real race car.

Nearby, Sedalia Director of Development John Simmons was busy the entire time cooking up hot dogs, trying to keep the flames burning while battling winds that have bedeviled the Sedalia area the past two days.

With 12 featured sites and downtown Sedalia making a dazzling performance, Sedalia was presented ‘The Best City Award’ one year ago for the 2014 Fireball Run’s American Frontier Series. Sedalia was officially recognized for its role one year ago with a film preview at Galaxy 10 and a VIP party at Ditzfeld Transfer.