HILO, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The mother of a 6-year-old Big Island boy who has been missing for 10 days is pleading with the community to continue the search and says she hasn’t given up hope yet.
Debra Garcia says she’s trying to not let her other children see her cry as she searches for her son, Benjamin Rapoza.
On Dec. 20, the child ― nicknamed “Big Boy” ― went missing from Garcia’s boyfriend’s Keaukaha home on Kalanianaole Street, which is just steps from the ocean.
The boy has autism and cannot speak. He was last seen wearing only a diaper.
Garcia hopes a new $5,000 dollar reward contributed by an anonymous donor will help lead to the child’s whereabouts. She says Benny has a whale-shaped birthmark on the back of his head.
"It just means everything to me that we get them back," she told Hawaii News Now.
Garcia says she was at work when her son went missing. The family was going to celebrate the boy and his twin sister’s birthday later that night.
"My boyfriend got home from the grocery store that day and my older daughter and my younger daughter were watching him and just in the confusion of him coming home and putting the groceries away, he managed to slip out the door," he said.
Police say the case is classified as a missing person’s case, but Garcia believes anything could have happened. “Honestly, I have no idea, but there’s always the possibility he’s been taken,” she said.
Even though police and fire suspended their ground and air search days ago, volunteers have still been looking and Garcia is pleading for help.
"I've been getting in the bushes every day looking for him searching the coastline just everything that I possibly can, but I'm just one person," she said.
She says “Big Boy” loves SpongeBob SquarePants, gummy bears and fruit.
“If you’re out there Benny Boy, I love you. Mom loves you,” she said.
The family has set up a Bank of Hawaii account under Benjamin Rapoza and a GoFundMe account to help raise money to help find the child.
If you have any information, call Hawaii County police.