Awakened as she dozed in front of the TV, a Granbury massage therapist reached for her buzzing phone.
"It's awfully late," Diana Simone thought.
But then she saw the words "Amber Alert."
The search for Fort Worth fifth-grader Jessica Smith had reached the woman who first suggested a state and national child abduction alert.
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She drowsily grabbed a pen and wrote down fugitive Kimberly Smith's license number.
"I see they found the little girl," Simone said Tuesday, with only a hint of pride.
"I always write [the license number] down."
In 1996, Simone broke down crying in the middle of a massage when she heard that Arlington police had found the body of third-grader Amber Hagerman.
She told the Fort Worth minister on her massage table that there must be a way to alert cellphones for child abductions.
The Rev. Tom Stoker, a minister and musician, lifted his head and asked, "Why not radio?"
Her two phone calls to KDMX/102.9 FM host Kim Ashley and follow-up letter suggesting an "Amber's Plan" alert spurred local radio managers to action.
Simone never sought attention. We didn't even know her name for years.
After Stoker found a copy of the letter, Simone and radio managers were among the Amber co-creators honored in a 2003 White House ceremony.
Now in her 60s, she has retold the story in motivational books but mostly lives quietly in Granbury.
"It's mostly all a memory now," she said.
"It doesn't belong to me. It belongs to children."
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has counted 554 children rescued, some directly because a motorist knew about an alert.
Maybe that's why fewer alerts involve strangers and more involve family members like Smith's, leaving police unsure whether to call for a search.
Simone said she hopes police never hesitate.
"The first three hours of the search are the most critical," she said.
"People I know say they'd rather risk a false alarm than a tragedy."
She considers the success as proof one person can make a difference.
"You don't have to be rich, you don't have to be famous, and you don't have to devote your life to a cause," she said.
Just pick up the phone.
Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538