LA VISTA, Neb. (KMTV) — Several milestones have passed since the disappearance of Ryan Larsen: one day, one week, three weeks, and now a birthday.
Larsen is believed to have left his school La Vista West Elementary shortly before noon on May 17. He's 5-foot-8 and 125 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes. Larsen is autistic but highly functioning.
He has been missing for 22 days now, and La Vista police say their leads are scarce at this point.
Since the beginning of the search, the La Vista community has been involved, searching neighborhoods and parks and putting up flyers looking for any information that could bring Larsen home.
“I couldn’t imagine not knowing where your kid is," said Jen Barrett, a mother of a child with autism who has been following the case.
Though the circumstances are grim, some in the community are doing their part to keep hopes up.
Ryan Wedekind knew Larsen's 12th birthday would be a difficult day for the Larsen family while the child was still missing. So he decided to host a birthday celebration at Central Park to let the family know that the community is still with them.
“We’ve stood with the Larsen family since day one," said Wedekind, founder of the Find Ryan Larsen Team on Facebook. "We’ll stand beside them, behind them, wherever else they want us to stand until we find Ryan.”
Ryan’s mother, Tammy, asked Wedekind to read her remarks to those in attendance. She shared how Ryan loves to be inventive and has aspirations to go into a number of public service fields.
“Ryan has big dreams, so we need to bring him home so he can accomplish every one of them," Wedekind read from the mother's writing.
At the event, community members could send a message to Ryan in birthday cards, donate to the family and drop words of encouragement to the investigators still searching for answers.
Andie Jaye Cord, who helped organize the event, said that now is not the time to stop looking for answers.
“He is his mother’s son, his sister’s brother, our community's child," Cord said.