PALMETTO — Jane Hunter and her partner Slick, owner of Slicks Garage, never met Alexander Matthew Erb-Sanchez.
Nor have they met his father, Bradley Erb.
Yet the pair has been on the couple’s minds.
Alexander, who turned 3 last July, is missing, allegedly taken in November 2008 by Erb’s ex-wife, Micaela Sanchez Vasquez, the child’s biological mother, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
He’s the reason they’re participating in “The 2010 Fireball Run Adventurally — The Race to Recover America’s Missing Children.”
It’s a 3,500-mile race from Henderson, Nev., to Galena, Ill., Sept. 23 to Oct. 2. A field of 75 drivers, partnering with the KlaasKids Foundation, will circulate thousands of posters of missing children during the eight-day event through 18 cities.
Hunter and Slick — the La Grange, Texas, native doesn’t use a last name — will distribute fliers about Alexander.
“I’d have a heart attack if I found out one of my kids were missing for more than just a day,” said the divorced 37-year-old father of two boys. “There’s no way to explain that unless you’re a mom or a dad. You always want to feel like you’re protecting them, being responsible for them.”
Bradley Erb is presently a nursing student at Ohio University-Zanesville and appreciates the assist from Slicks.
He’s posted fliers, reached out to missing children advocacy groups and even gone to his ex-wife’s hometown, Juxtlahuaca, Mexico, but to no avail.
“What they’re doing is awesome. It makes me feel good, others doing whatever they can, putting out the word in case she does pop up,” said Erb, 23. “It’s hard not knowing. I spent last night searching MySpace and YouTube, hoping for a hit. I cried for three hours.”
According to the sheriff’s office, there is a warrant on Erb’s ex-wife for interference with child custody.
“It’s an ongoing case and we’re thinking the child is with the mother in Mexico,” said sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow. “He had dropped off the child and the next time he showed up for visitation, they were gone.”
As for the race’s purpose?
“Anything that gets the word out helps, because this is a prevalent issue,” Bristow said.
According to its website, the Fireball Run has helped in the recovery of 32 missing children.
“If a race like this can highlight the children are missing and actually help find those children, what better reward is there?” said Hunter, 45, a native of Yorkshire, England, who has no children.
Their newly built fiberglass model of a 1932 Ford Roadster is amped up to go fast and far, but the goal is more than winning a race.
“We’re trying to make a difference in some way,” Slick said. “I’m looking forward to talking to Bradley Erb.”