Houston Missing Persons Day unites loved ones who haven't given up hope

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Everyone has a unique story.

In the case of one group of Houstonians though, their stories are strikingly similar, equally heartbreaking, and they hope a Saturday event raises awareness to find their loved ones.

Family members and friends of people who've been reported missing gathered Saturday for the 7th annual Houston/National Missing Persons Day.

This year, the event was held virtually via Facebook Live, and included guest speakers and loved ones who shared their most candid feelings to friends and strangers alike.

You can watch a portion of the event in the video player above.

"You all need people fighting for you," Jacquelyn Aluotto told attendees Saturday.

Jo Ann Lowitzer's daughter, Alexandria, went missing in 2010 after stepping off a school bus at the age of 16 in Spring. Lowitzer shared how the pain of her daughter's disappearance changed her perspective.

"I never thought anything like this would happen to me," Lowitzer said. "I think we're all in the same boat. When Ali went missing, my eyes were opened. The younger people say 'I was woke'. I'm awake now and have been for a long time. I don't like seeing what I'm seeing in the missing persons' world, and I think there are a lot of people who think like I used to, that it's not their problem. Unfortunately, it's everybody's problem."

The Texas Center for the Missing was founded in 2000 after the disappearance of Gabriel Lester, 17, whose remains were found four months later. His mother, Doreen Wise, began the organization to help the families of those missing and make an impact to help find them.

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