Teaff and Singletary launch plan
to tag every Texas kid for safety
___By Marv Knox
___WACO--Texas Baptist football legends Grant Teaff and Mike Singletary are teaming up to make the Lone Star State a safer place for kids.
___They're helping raise money to fund the Texas Child ID Program, a campaign to supply parents with identification packets for every Texas child between the ages of 3 and
|MIKE SINGLETARY and GRANT TEAFF
___It's part of a national child-identification program sponsored by the Waco-based American Football Coaches Association, directed by Teaff, former longtime football coach at Baylor University.
___"The association got involved in this head over heels about 3 1/2 years ago, when it became very clear we have a major problem in this country of children disappearing," reported Teaff, a deacon and Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church in Waco.
___Teaff cites a heartbreaking list of missing-children woes:
___ About 800,000 U.S. children become missing annually.
___ Of those, 450,000 children run away from home.
___ Another 350,000 are abducted by a family member.
___ More than 4,500 are abducted by a stranger.
___ That means a child goes missing every 40 seconds.
___To help locate and recover the children, police need good descriptions. Unfortunately, less than 2 percent of parents have a copy of their child's fingerprints. And the coaches decided they wanted to do something about that, Teaff said.
___"There was not any set form or way of mass-identifying children that would meet the standards of most folks as parents and grandparents," he explained. "We wanted to provide something that was free to the parents, that would not create a mess, that could be applied to every child and that could be kept at home by the parents, not filed at a police station.
___"We want to make a difference, and if we can bring one child home safely, it will be worth all the effort."
___So, the association teamed up with Dallas-based Inkless Image to create and distribute identification kits that could be inexpensive enough to provide without charge to the parents for every American child between 3 and 18--an estimated 55 million youngsters, he noted. The kits include materials to record children's fingerprints, a place for a photograph, spaces for other general information and a diagram on which to record distinguishing features.
___In about three years, the association has distributed between 9 million and 11 million of the ID kits, primarily at college and university football stadiums, Teaff said. Association leaders want to extend that to 42 million more children in the next four years, kicking off the next big effort this fall. They plan to distribute the kits through schools, churches and other community agencies, as well as directly to parents.
___The association has received official endorsement, especially in Texas. Gov. George W. Bush has affirmed the Texas Child ID Program, a move backed by the Texas Senate and House of Representatives.
___And the association also has received support from a pantheon of star athletes and coaches, who have donated signed memorabilia, which is being sold to raise money for the project.
___One of the most touching acts came from Walter Payton, the late Hall of Fame running back from the Chicago Bears, who signed some Bears helmets shortly before his death. Tom Landry, the late coach of the Dallas Cowboys, also helped.
___Other Texans who have donated memorabilia include Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Bob Lilly, Randy White and Tony Dorsett of the Cowboys; Earl Campbell of the Houston Oilers; Nolan Ryan of the Texas Rangers; David Robinson and Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs; coaches Mack Brown of the University of Texas and R.C. Slocum of Texas A&M; and the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Stars and Houston Astros.
___The Texas Baptist connection comes from Teaff and his most famous Baylor player, Hall of Fame linebacker Singletary, who started 172 games for the Chicago Bears.
___Singletary and Teaff have autographed a limited-edition collection of Baylor Bears football helmets, which are being sold for $300, plus shipping and handling, with proceeds committed to the Texas Child ID program.
___To order kits, call (888) 55-IDKIT toll-free or visit the program's Internet site at www.childidprogram.com.
___For more information about the Teaff/Singletary Baylor helmets, contact the Texas Child ID Program, P.O. Box 560443, Dallas 75356-0443.
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