Midsi Sanchez is not a household name like Elizabeth Smart or Jaycee Dugard, but she is a kidnap survivor. Unlike Elizabeth or Jaycee, Midsi demonstrated extraordinary courage during her darkest moment and affected her own escape.
On August 10, 2000 8-year-old Midsi Sanchez was abducted while walking home from school in Vallejo, California. After being chained to the gear shift of the kidnapper’s car for 44-hours, she grabbed the keys when he left momentarily, unlocked her ankle shackles and fled. Her courageous act not only saved her own life, but it resulted in the arrest and successful prosecution of Curtis Dean Anderson, a known pedophile who subsequently admitted that he kidnapped and murdered another young Vallejo resident named Xiana Fairchild.
Midsi returned home in triumph and was showered with honors and awards, including National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s first ever Courage Award on May 17, 2001. The next several years were difficult for Midsi. Schoolmates demanded to know the gruesome details of the ordeal that she only wanted to forget. Girls at school taunted her, ostracized her, and finally pushed her to the point of no return. Midsi ended up on the streets of Vallejo, strung out on drugs and alcohol.
On March 27, 2009 8-year-old Sandra Cantu was reported missing by her family. Seeing Sandra’s missing flyer helped lead Midsi to her true purpose in life. She reached out to console Sandra’s family and can still see the pain in her mother’s eyes. Midsi says that, “I had to dig deep down inside of the little girl who escaped from the pervert and recover that same courage that helped her get away.”
On May 1, 2009 Midsi was involved in a drinking and driving automobile accident. She flew out an automobile window at 90 mph and broke her neck. “I saw that as God’s way of saying stop, be still. This is not the path I want you to follow.” Exactly two weeks after being discharged from the hospital, Midsi learned that she was going to be a mother. She says, “That was the day my life took a change for the better. I became sober, healthy and able to think and plan with clarity.”
For the past two years Midsi has been an active volunteer for the KlaasKids Foundation. “Working with KlaasKids has taught me the importance of utilizing the press in missing persons’ cases, that I can help the families of missing children by providing council, organizing fundraisers, or simply providing a hug or smile. At the end of the day I want the families to see me as an example of what is possible, not what is probable.”
Shortly after learning of the disappearance of Sierra LaMar Midsi started attending vigils to support the missing girl’s family. At the first vigil Midsi introduced herself to Sierra’s mother, father and sister. After telling her story to the attendant crowd Marlene LaMar thanked Midsi, telling her that, “You made me feel so much better.”
In the months since Sierra’s disappearance Midsi has been a regular presence at the Find Sierra Search Center, always ready with a hug, a word of encouragement or a project. In early April Midsi and her friend Davina Joy organized a youth brigade to give Sierra’s peers a way to help in the search. They organized flyer distributions, poster creations, car washes and other activities.
Midsi Sanchez is not a household name like Elizabeth Smart or Jaycee Dugard, but she is a kidnap survivor and she is in the trenches regularly sharing her special gift with those who need it the most: the families of the missing.