NORTH PORT, Fla. - One of the organizations hoping to benefit from the current 36 Hours of Giving event is the Denise Amber Lee Foundation. Lee's story made national headlines when she was kidnapped from her North Port home and murdered five years ago.
More headlines followed when it was discovered that a 911 call from a witness was mishandled. Since then, her family has worked to reform the call system.
The voice on the other end of a 911 call is something we have all used or may need one day. And the Denise Amber Lee Foundation’s mission is to make sure that help is always on the way.
It's been five years since Denise was kidnapped by a man and killed -- five years since her husband Nathan and two little boys Noah and Adam have been able to give her a hug.
"I can't imagine growing up without a mom." While working a full time job, Nathan says with help from family, friends, and complete strangers he and the boys -- now ages seven and five -- are doing just fine. "I am really proud of them. I am really happy with where they are at. They are extremely smart and definitely have a lot of Denise in them."
He’s still as determined as ever to make sure the horrific incident was not in vain. "The goal is to make sure what happened to Denise never happens again, plain and simple."
A witness’ 911 call the night she was taken was mishandled by call takers. The family has always believed it would have saved her life. They later learning there was no standardized training for dispatchers.
Nathan and the foundation have pushed and succeeded to get that in Florida. Other states have followed suit. "We have started to change that. We have started to make that progress. People around the country know what happened to Denise, and it has been incredible, the support we have gotten."
But there’s still a lot more work to do. “Over half the states in the country don't have either a voluntary or mandatory training standard, and that is just unbelievable."
He has been traveling to those states and raising money to help educate the hard working men and woman on the other end of the line. "It allows 911 communicators to go for training. If it's going to a state of national conference where they can get good training material and take courses on 911 topics."
None of it comes cheap. The foundation is constantly working to bring in grants and raise funds, allowing them to fight for changes that perhaps we all can't afford to live without. "I definitely believe that Denise is the reason a lot of other people are still here. I am really happy with the work we have done and happy with the changes Denise has been able to make."
And Nathan Lee and others with the foundation will traveling to Washington DC to talk with the Department of Transportation. Their goal is to create a national training standard instead of having to work state to state.