‘We keep the hope alive’: Annual walk/run marks 33rd anniversary of Michael Dunahee’s disappearance

'We keep the hope alive': Annual walk/run marks 33rd anniversary of Michael Dunahee's disappearance
A family photo of Michael Dunahee. File photo.

This weekend marks 33 years since Michael Dunahee disappeared from a Victoria-area playground, but his loved ones aren’t giving up hope.

“There’s still that piece missing,” said mom Crystal Dunahee in an interview with CHEK News Sunday. “That’s why we keep the hope alive. Until we have that answer.”

It was on March 24, 1991, around 12:30 p.m., when Michael, who was four years old, vanished from the area of the Blanshard School playground, just a short distance away from his family, according to Victoria Police (VicPD).

Police say Michael’s disappearance “remains one of the largest missing person investigations in Canada.”

Decades later, people in Greater Victoria and beyond continue to support Micheal’s family. On Sunday, the 33rd annual Michael Dunahee ‘Keep the Hope Alive’ walk/run took the streets of Esquimalt with hundreds in attendance, says Crystal.

The event raises funds for Child Find BC.

“With sunshine, we had lots of people. Close to 200 people were out there today,” Crystal said following the event. “Today being 33 years to the day that he disappeared, it was heartwarming to see everyone out there continuing to support us.”

READ PREVIOUS: VicPD aware of man claiming to be Michael Dunahee

VicPD, in a news release Saturday, said investigators were continuing their work to solve the cold case and recalled the disappearance that rocked the community.

“Many families and spectators were in the area at the time for a touch football game. An extensive search was launched for Michael, which involved hundreds of volunteers and police from multiple agencies,” reads the release.

‘We try to keep the awareness up’

VicPD applauds Michael’s family, saying they turned their tragedy into a grassroots effort to protect other families. On its website, Child Find BC says it’s a non-profit organization that aims to reduce child victimization by providing programs and services. 

“The annual Michael Dunahee ‘Keep The Hope Alive’ Walk/Run has been a fixture in our community. Each year, families run or walk to mark Michael’s disappearance and highlight the ongoing search,” said VicPD.

In the past, baseball players have taken to the field for the Michael Dunahee Tournament of Hope, which was organized by Michael’s dad, Bruce, also to raise awareness.

“We try to keep the awareness up because I wouldn’t wish anybody the pain me, my wife and my daughter have been through with missing our son for long,” Bruce told CHEK News in 2022.

VicPD added that a deputy chief would attend this year’s walk/run, and several other officers would be on the scene “to help keep everyone attending safe.”

Last fall, police said they were aware of a man claiming to be Michael but later told CHEK News there was “nothing that leads us to believe this person is Michael Dunahee.”

Journalist Laura Palmer examined Michael’s disappearance in the third season of her Frequency podcast, “Missing Michael: Island Crime,” released in 2022. This true-crime show investigates missing people and cold cases on Vancouver Island.

In 2021, police released an age-enhanced sketch of Michael and also launched a dedicated online tip portal to mark 30 years since his last sighting.

They say they’ve received hundreds of tips so far and are urging anyone with information about his disappearance to visit this website or call the dedicated tip line at 250-995-7444.

“All it could take is one person to bring Michael home,” added VicPD.

Two photos of Michael Dunahee. At left, as he appeared in 1991. At right, an artist's image of what he might have looked like in 2012. (Michaeldunahee.ca)

Two photos of Michael Dunahee. At left, as he appeared in 1991. At right, an artist’s image of what he might have looked like in 2012. (Michaeldunahee.ca)

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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