Estrada visits area to promote new movie on internet predators
Jan 24, 2013 (Floyd Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The premiere of a film seeking to educate youth, parents and others about internet predators set off a weekend of events in the area.
A Floyd County teen whose story is part of the Finding Faith movie and television star Erik Estrada, who played Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown in the film, were getting attention as they attended the premiere, held at the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg Saturday night, and a Safe Surfin' event at the Floyd Moose Lodge Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday, Danielle Wade was wearing a starfish necklace presented to her on Saturday. The presentation, which took place on stage at the Church in front of the 5,000 people in attendance, was made by another woman who had also been abducted by an internet predator years ago. She said the gift was coming "from one victim to another" and told Danielle she had the power to lead change. Another young woman was also recognized.
Danielle's mother, sister, grandparents and others attended the premiere, along with Eddie Worth and his wife of the Floyd Moose Lodge.
"The whole movie got started based on Danielle's story," Worth told the Press before the movie was shown Saturday. He approached producer Jason Campbell and shared Danielle's experience.
He said the movie, rated PG13, aims to educate.
Before the film was shown Saturday, Campbell recognized the three young women who inspired the film. "They lived the life, and they're brave enough to tell their stories."
Estrada said he was "glad to be a foot soldier" for Sheriff Brown.
Brown, a retired federal agent who worked around the world before becoming sheriff, told the audience at Thomas Road, "It's disgusting the stuff we see on the internet....We've got to keep fighting it....If your children or grandchildren can get on the internet, you'd better be talking to them about internet safety."
Brown said he established that area's Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) taskforce. "There is something greater than an earthly reason we became a taskforce. So many victims, so many predators, so few investigators." Members of that taskforce, originally known as Blue Ridge Thunder and now called the Southern Virginia ICAC taskforce, were present and introduced along with the West Virginia ICAC. Both groups were included in the movie.
The movie begins with a girl chatting online with a new friend she believes to be another teen, but who is actually a predator.
The star of the movie -- Estrada, who is remembered for his role as a motorcycle police officer on the television show CHiPs, is a national spokesperson for the Safe Surfin' Foundation, one of the major programs supported by the Moose Organization. Safe Surfin' promotes internet safety.
On Sunday, Estrada told those gathered at the Floyd Moose Lodge that he wants to use his celebrity status to raise awareness about internet dangers and lobby for better laws. "Education is the best prevention....We need to teach our children."
He said children and youth need to be taught never to give their real names or to share personal information. They should not accept gifts, and they should never meet anyone they have chatted with on the internet. Estrada, who grew up in New York City, said he was inspired to be a police officer after his mother starting dating one. An acting career, however, intervened. The first movie he ever made, the Cross and the Switchblade, was a Christian movie. "Here I am involved in another Christian movie 40 some years later."
His career also included roles in the movies Airport and Midway and television shows Mannix and Kojak.
He was 27 when he auditioned for CHiPs.
Estrada ended up becoming a reserve police officer in Indiana. He later decided he wanted to do something with his passion for law enforcement and use his celebrity for good and contacted Sheriff Brown. From there, he became involved in Safe Surfin' and now travels to promote it and thank the Moose for what they are doing.
Doug Thompson of the Floyd Moose Lodge presented Estrada with a check for $1,000 for Safe Surfin' from local Lodge members.
The Lodge also gave boxes of Tommy Moose, a stuffed animal, to the Floyd County Fire Department, represented by Nathan Miller, and the Floyd County Sheriff's Office, represented by Deputy Michael McBroom. They gave the stuffed animals to the Floyd County Rescue Squad in December.
Also on Sunday, the Lodge provided the child identification program, and several parents took the opportunity to get their children fingerprinted and their voices recorded.
The Fire Department also gave out water bottles with goodies.
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