The Blue Ribbon Campaign began in Virginia in 1989 when a grandmother, Bonnie W. Finney, tied a Blue Ribbon to the antenna of her van to “make people wonder”. The story she told to inquisitive community members was a tragic story about the abuse of her grandchildren, which ultimately led to the brutal death of her grandson.
The story of Bonnie Finney demonstrates the effect that just one concerned citizen can have on raising public awareness of child abuse and in promoting prevention. Since Bonnie Finney first tied that Blue Ribbon to her van antenna in 1989, millions of people across the country have participated in Blue Ribbon campaigns.
Each year, more people join the effort by wearing Blue Ribbons, encouraging others to wear and display them, and getting involved in community activities to “make people wonder” about the significance of the Blue Ribbon.
Bonnie Finney’s story
It had been so long since I sat by my grandson’s side in the hospital. Of course, I knew something was wrong as I sat there, I saw fear on his face, the bruises on his body, and the healing cigarette burns on his hands. His doctor did not believe my daughter’s story “he fell in slippery water in the bathtub.”
After the ordeal at the hospital my grandson was placed into foster care for three weeks. He cried when they came to take him back to his mother. I ached for his dilemma, but I was not physically able to care for him. I never saw him again.
My 16-month old granddaughter was hospitalized after being beaten severely. Her leg was broken in four places and her hand was burned from the tip of her little fingers to her wrist. It was only then that the search was on for my grandson. We learned that he had been killed, wrapped in a sheet, stuffed in a toolbox, and dumped into the dismal swamp three months earlier.
My grandchildren had suffered and battled so much throughout their young lives that it sickened me. My life was turned into physical and mental chaos. My efforts to understand became a plea to stop abusing children. I tied a Blue Ribbon on my van antenna to make people wonder. Why blue? I intend never to forget the battered, bruised bodies of my grandchildren. Blue serves as a constant reminder to me to fight for protection for our children.
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