RAPID CITY, S.D, (KOTA TV) - After Serenity Dennard went missing after running away from the Children's Home in Rockerville, her family has been pushing to implement a new missing child alert in her name.
Brian Gentry, Serenity Dennard's stepfather, holds up a picture of Serenity on his phone. (KOTA TV)
When Serenity went missing in February, an Amber Alert was never issued. It could only be released if law enforcement proved she was abducted.
But to help missing children who do not fall into the Amber Alert criteria, Serenity's family came up with an idea.
In late February, Serenity's cousin started an online petition to create an alert system in her name. Back then, more than 62,000 people signed the petition. Currently, there is more than 310,000 signatures.
The Serenity Alert would send a text message to the public if a child under 17 years old is considered missing and endangered.
Serenity's adoptive parents said the endangered and missing alert was not strong enough to alert people when Serenity went missing. But the Amber Alert criteria is too stiff.
"If you didn't get home right away and look in Rockerville, South Dakota you would have never known she was missing which is why it took up to six or seven hours for the public to even know. So what we are trying to do. The Amber Alert has a very stiff criteria which is why that number is so small. Serenity alert would go right in the middle," Brian Gentry, Serenity's stepfather said.
Serenity's adoptive parents say Governor Kristi Noem is on board with the idea and hope to see some legislation pass.
They believe if South Dakota starts this a national trend will follow.
Serenity's adoptive mother, Darcie, left a message for Serenity.
"I would say I love you more than anything. We miss you. There's so many people that are helping and trying to bring her home and she needs to come home," Darcie said.
The family plans to host a free benefit in Serenity's name November 23 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center to collect Christmas gifts for foster children. It will take place from noon to 9 p.m. There will be games and prizes for people to win as they wanted to make it a family event.
"Serenity would want kids there. She would be playing with all of them and talking to them and wanting to play games so it's important to us to have families there," Darcie said.
Darcie and Brian have also created a Serenity Reward Fund if someone finds her. An online donation page was created to donate to the fund.
If anyone has any tips about Serenity's disappearance contact the Pennington County Sheriff's Office at (605) 394-6115.