LITTLE ROCK — Nearly 20 years after Morgan Nick disappeared from an Alma ballpark, a new statewide campaign is being launched to bring her home.

LITTLE ROCK — Nearly 20 years after Morgan Nick disappeared from an Alma ballpark, a new statewide campaign is being launched to bring her home.


Morgan was 6 years old when she went to a Little League baseball game with her mother, Colleen Nick, on June 9, 1995. Near the end of the game, she joined some friends to catch lightning bugs.


"When she climbed down from the bleachers to go with her friends, she threw her arms around my neck and gave me a big hug and she kissed me on the cheek," Colleen Nick said Friday at a news conference at the state Capitol, her voice trembling with emotion. "The last time that Morgan was seen, she was standing by my car taking sand out of her shoes. In an instant terror invaded our lives, and 20 years later we are still living with that terror."


Linda Krieg, acting CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, announced a new billboard campaign featuring an age-progressed photo of Morgan that was created by the center’s forensic team. The billboards are being placed in the Fort Smith and Alma areas, in Northwest Arkansas and in Little Rock, she said. Several outdoor advertising companies are helping with the campaign.


"We know that photos remain the single most powerful tool for finding missing children. We also know someone has information that can help us finally bring Morgan home," Krieg said. "We’re asking the public to call the national center at 1-800-THE-LOST, 1-800-843-5678, with any information. Please, please call us."


She said more than 5,000 people abducted as children were recovered between 2009 and 2013 after being missing more than six months, and that 42 of them had been missing more than 20 years.


Several law enforcement officers who have worked on the case attended the news conference, including Alma Police Chief Russell White, who was chief when Morgan disappeared and still holds that position.


"Many times over the last 20 years I’ve been asked, why do we still work this cold case so hard?" White said. "It’s not a cold case. This is our most active case."


Leads still come in every week and are investigated by multiple agencies, he said.


Gov. Asa Hutchinson also spoke at the news conference, recalling that he was living in Fort Smith when Morgan disappeared and was in Congress when her mother founded the Morgan Nick Foundation, which provides assistance to families of missing children.


The governor credited the foundation with "inspiring a nation to engage in prevention and education and policy changes, and that has been very successful in terms of changing the attitude of law enforcement, in terms of changing policy."


"As governor, Colleen, I’m pleased to continue to support you in your efforts and the foundation’s efforts," Hutchinson said. "And law enforcement, thank you for your continued commitment. Let’s have success, not only for Morgan Nick but for all the children that are at risk in our society."


In a further effort to remind people that the search is continuing, Secretary of State Mark Martin has agreed to light the top of the Capitol dome in pink, Morgan’s favorite color, through the month of June, organizers of the news conference said.


Colleen Nick said that unless someone can prove otherwise, she will continue to believe her daughter is alive.


"Today is about not giving up, not matter how long it takes or how hard it gets," she said. "Someday I want to be able to look Morgan in the eye and say, ‘I always knew that I would find you. I have always believed that you would come home.’"