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Diana Alvarez in mind on Florida Missing Children’s Day in Tallahassee

A time of recognition, remembrance and hope.

The annual Florida Missing Children’s Day event was held Thursday in Tallahassee to raise awareness of currently missing children in the state and to educate the public on child safety and abduction prevention.

Diana Alvarez went missing from her San Carlos Park home more than one year ago. But her mother Rita Hernandez has not given up hope.

Since her 10-year-old daughter went missing, Hernandez says she has always felt like she’s on her own.

But sitting side-by-side with at least a dozen other grieving families and knowing state leaders know about her daughter’s case makes her feel as though she’s not alone.

MORE: Diana Alvarez’s mother headed to Tallahassee for answers

A single photo of Diana stood among 17 others who are still missing.

“They’re doing what they can, just like me, using whatever strength they have for their families and not giving up hope,” Hernandez said in Spanish.

The event is how the Florida Department of Law Enforcement tries to make sure the smiling faces on the photos are not forgotten, according to Commissioner Richard Swearingen.

“That’s a challenge when someone has been missing for so many years, but this is a reminder of why it’s so important why we keep doing our job,” Swearingen said.  “There are families waiting for those children to come home.”

MORE: Families of missing children gather to help stop abduction

More than 33 thousand children were reported missing in Florida in 2016, the same year Diana went missing. 12 of them resulted in Amber Alerts.

“They took them alive. We want them back alive,” Hernandez said in Spanish. “This is a very emotional event, but it’s a very important event.”

Some of the parents at the event hope they can use their experiences to help mothers like Hernandez.

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