Pettycoats tour to help find missing woman

By on October 7, 2015

On Aug. 23, 2009 Toni Lee Sharpless went missing from Gladwyne. At age 29, she was 5’5’’ with reddish brown hair, blue eyes and a tattoo on her right calf. She was last seen leaving a house party in her 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix GT, Pennsylvania tag DND-7772. The car was never located, and she remains missing six years later.

Toni Lee Sharpless

Toni Lee Sharpless

On Oct. 9, Lancaster-based band The Pettycoats will feature Sharpless at Dosie Dough in Lititz as the person they’ve adopted for the nationally recognized Squeaky Wheel Tour.

The Squeaky Wheel Tour is produced every year by the Gina for Missing Persons Foundation. It was started by Jannel Rap, whose sister went missing in 2000. Its mission is to raise awareness of missing people by having musicians “adopt” a missing person in their state and feature them at all of their scheduled gigs throughout October and November each year.

By doing this and hosting sponsor-promoted gigs, local and media attention is drawn to unsolved cases. Since its start, the tour has helped find over 600 missing people worldwide.

Gina Miller, lead singer of the Pettycoats, met Rap through connections in Nashville, and has participated in the tour since 2008. Coincidentally, Rap’s sister who went missing is also named Gina.

Now Miller has united with band members Gabbie Bonet, Deb Olsen and Terri Brown to be the squeaky wheels locally. The Pettycoats started their music career together this past spring in Lancaster and have had many gigs throughout the county.

“It’s really working,” said Miller. “We’re making a difference.”

She encourages local musicians to participate.

The Pettycoats will bring their Squeaky Wheel Tour to Dosie Dough on Second Friday, Oct. 9.

The Pettycoats will bring their Squeaky Wheel Tour to Dosie Dough on Second Friday, Oct. 9.

Miller takes her tour outside of the state, partnering with other musicians who are also touring for missing people.

The Pettycoats will be performing Second Friday, Oct. 9, in downtown Lititz at Dosie Dough from 6 to 9 p.m. with a picture of Sharpless. The goal is to gain community support and be a bridge to the media in an effort to get Sharpless’ case back in the spotlight.

Miller’s efforts to help find missing people have also included co-writing a song called “The Missing Piece,” making a music video, which is available on Youtube, and interviewing with radio and news channels in multiple states.

A list of other participating artists, upcoming gigs and missing people can be found on the tour website: 411gina.org.

Lenay Ruhl is a freelance feature writer from Lititz. She welcomes reader feedback at lenay.ruhl@gmail.com.

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