Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Malorie Janasek produces moving video and honest letter
"I joined the search for Lauren as an alum-- a fellow Hoosier, who had lived in Smallwood, the same apartment building as Lauren did, my junior year. I thought about how many times I walked those streets back home after a late night at the bar. Having stayed for summer session one year, I also knew how empty the town was, and areas on campus became a little sketchy, especially late at night. So, I went down to Bloomington with two friends, with the "that could have been me" approach. We stayed for two days.
Searching for a missing person is one of the most surreal experiences. You cannot mentally prepare yourself for it. You have your brief moment of thrill, a Law & Order-ish feeling if you will, but then, you find yourself falling in line and automatically following orders. They tell you rules, they address safety issues. You are sectioned into groups. You don't have much time to think. It is all too strange and unfamiliar for you to feel comfortable enough to do anything else but what you're told.
We were told to search for items of Lauren's clothing-- a white top, black leggings. Anything female-oriented was also to be called out. I searched high and low, looking for any item or clue that could answer our questions. I searched high and low, looking for Lauren.
After the search, I returned home to Chicago. I did not return the same. I returned with this yearning, a need. Anyone with a passion or has supported a cause can relate to this feeling. Something had ignited within me. I was inspired. I was inspired by the determination of Lauren's family and friends; inspired by the overwhelming support from the Bloomington community and people around the world. From the IU students searching campus, to the online supporters sending hundreds of tweets per minute, I was inspired by every single one. I needed to keep going.
So I did. I used my blog and social media skills to share as much as I could. In my current position as a new media professional, I see the power of online networking and social media. These tools have changed the way we communicate. We are now both the newsmakers and the reporters. We have the power to spread a message quickly. And to #FindLauren, we did.
My goal was simple-- make my blog an information hub so people could get the latest news when they wanted to know about our search for Lauren. I Twitter-stalked @NewsOnLaurenS and shared everything. I reached out on LinkedIn and Facebook to various IU groups and pages I belong to, asking them to spread the word and help us find Lauren.
One of the most rewarding moments was when I received messages from my fellow Hoosiers, thanking me for keeping them updated on developments in Lauren's story. Another was when I saw my blog stats jump from a lonely 38 views-- on a good day-- to over 13,000 that first week after Lauren disappeared. The Google map I created showing a timeline of events from June 2nd into the early hours of June 3rd had over 20,000 views. The numbers were extraordinary, showing how powerful online tools can be. Lauren's story spread across the world in a matters of days. Supporters around the world wanted to help us find Lauren.
I've kept up with Lauren's story. As pieces of the night began to surface, it became clear that Lauren had been drinking and may have been involved with drugs that night. It also became clear that while Lauren may have been involved in an accident, her disappearance resulted from the selfish actions and ruthless decisions of others.
And as Lauren's story unfolded, I found consistencies between hers and my own…
During my four years at IU, I thought I was invincible. I rarely thought about the consequences of my actions. I didn't think anyone or any thing could hurt me.
I've made mistakes. I've had my share of hangovers. I can tell you one thing that did change completely during my years at IU-- my outlook on friends. My time in college made me aware of how important a true friend is. The friends in your life help you play out your story; they affect your future. They can sway your decisions and push you off track. They can support you and help you get back on track. They can end your life. They can save your life.
The years you spend in college should be some of your greatest. It's the
time in your life to soak it all in and enjoy every moment as it happens. Meet new people, take risks and learn from your mistakes. Don't hold back, don't ignore your passions. Experience it all. My message to you is choose your friends wisely. Take those risks and live in each moment, but make sure you are surrounded by friends you trust; friends you know would help you if you ever were in danger. A true friend is someone who would stop at nothing to protect you-- your life is as precious to them as their own. I am so blessed by the friends I made while attending Indiana University. They have helped me get to where I am today and I love them for it. Even though we've graduated and have spread ourselves around country, I still know they are 100% there for me. True friendship never dies.
So here we are, almost four months later. People ask me why I still care, why am I still so adamant about finding Lauren. I can't really explain it, but anyone with a passion or desire to help a cause and do good can relate. You don't give up. If there's something that you can do to help, you do it. You just do. And while I've never met Lauren, I'm privileged by the fact that over the past 3 1/2 months, I've had the chance to develop a close relationship with Charlene Spierer. When I talk to Charlene, I cannot help but think of my own mother. I picture her living this nightmare. I picture her pain, her devastation. I think about how I would want someone to be there for her, someone who she could talk to and help take her mind off things. When I talk to Charlene, I think about this, and I tell her my own personal stories. I tell her tales from my own journey living as a 26-year old. I share my stories with Charlene with the hope that, even if only for a brief moment, I can help her take her mind off of this nightmare. For a brief moment, I can make her smile.
Charlene's nightmare has lasted for almost 4 months. Try to imagine that. Imagine waking up every day, still raw from the pain and heart-ache from the day before. Imagine falling asleep every night, completely numb, drained of all energy and emotion, with even more pain and heart-ache. Every night, Charlene does this-- she falls asleep only to wake up the next day to the same nightmare, all over again. Yet every day, she wakes up even more determined, more hopeful that the day before. And every day, I am blown away by the strength and courage of this truly remarkable woman. Charlene's love for her daughter is immeasurable, yet I know it continues to grow stronger every day.
I also know that Charlene and her family will stop at nothing until they can end this nightmare. They will not stop until they find Lauren.
I made this video to show the world how much Lauren means to her family and friends. The pictures don't lie. It's clear how much she is loved. Even if you don't know Lauren, as you watch the video, think about your friends. How precious are their lives to you? What would you do if your friend was in trouble? Would you do the right thing? Would your family be able to handle this nightmare?
It's never too late to do the right thing. Even if your first choice was a mistake, your second choice doesn't have to be. Life is precious and you only get one. Trying to live a normal life while hiding evil and burying your fear is not possible. Until you come forward and speak the truth, you will forever be haunted by your mistake. If you know something, anything, do the right thing. Tell someone. End this nightmare for Lauren's friends and family. End this nightmare for yourself. No one can escape an evil act. If you bury evil, it will lurk inside you. It will eat at your soul and haunt you forever.
If you do know something and don't speak up, God help you. Karma is a bitch."
Posted by NewsOnLaurenS Twitter Feed at 10:59 AM