The Wyoming search for a missing father and three sons has hundreds in the Twin Cities aching to do more.
As teams of rescuers trudged Thursday through the deep snow of the remote and rugged Wyoming mountains searching for a Minneapolis man and his three sons, the wait for news was tearing hearts and drawing tears in Minnesota.
But it also has brought a community of family, friends and even strangers together seeking comfort and strength. Internet postings and prayer chains share the latest information about the continuing efforts to locate Luke Bucklin and his three sons, who have been missing since their plane disappeared Monday afternoon on their way home from Jackson Hole.
A 13-year-old classmate launched a campaign to wear blue until the Bucklins are found. Classmates sat in the cafeteria to talk about their friends, and co-workers gathered in offices to recall good times and find support.
For all of them, it's about holding onto hope.
"I don't know what to think. It's kind of confusing. I don't know how to feel," said 15-year-old Zane Ludvigsen, who is waiting for news about his friend Nate Bucklin and his family.
They're out there. They just need to be found, Zane said.
"I don't want to feel sad because then I feel like I'm giving up. But I don't want to blow off all emotions completely because there's still a possibility that something can go wrong."
It's the waiting, he said, that is so hard.
"But all my friends are going through it with me, so it's a lot easier," he said.
And a sea of blue launched by his younger sister helped boost spirits.
'Blue is his favorite color'
Brae Ludvigsen, an Anthony Middle School seventh- grader, spurred friends to wear blue in support of her missing friend, 12-year-old Noah Bucklin. "We've been friends since fourth grade. ... We're really close," she said. "Blue is his favorite color."
A Facebook invitation spread the "wear blue" campaign throughout the community, inspiring a grateful Bucklin family to quickly assemble blue lapel ribbons. Hundreds of students at the middle school and at Southwest High School, where twins Nick and Nate Bucklin are freshmen, donned blue Thursday. They pledged to do it again Friday and every day until the Bucklins are found.
The students came in blue T-shirts, sweatshirts and knee socks. "I even saw blue shoes," Brae Ludvigsen said.
"I feel like I started something good," she said. "It made me feel like everyone cares. ... Noah is funny nice. He's so caring. He has pretty blue eyes with a yellow ring around the pupil. It looks really cool.
"I miss him," Brae Ludvigsen said. "I haven't been getting a lot of sleep because I can't stop keep thinking about how they are and what they are doing at the time when I'm trying to sleep. It's kind of hard."
She believes they're staying warm because they have winter coats on the trip. "But it's hard not knowing what's wrong with them and where they are and knowing that there are people out looking for them but they can't find them."
Washburn High School freshman Christian Winger, who is a close friend of Nick Bucklin, couldn't just sit still and wait. He decided to trek to Wyoming on his own -- on foot.
His mother, Mary Kohout, said she and her husband found a handwritten note from their son at their home about 4 p.m. Wednesday.
"I gotta go sorry, it's not in me to leave my friend to die, my best friend," began the note to his mother. "So I have to go, I made up my mind, hopefully I'll be back soon. I couldn't begin to live my life normally with Nick's fate, I have to do something about it. ... I know you won't give me a ride so I'll have to walk.
"P.S. I'm not running away, I'll be back, it will be awhile."
Nineteen hours later, Winger walked back into his home, cold and tired after walking west along Hwy. 7 to St. Louis Park, where he "hunkered down for the night," said his mother.
Wyoming search continues
In Wyoming on Thursday, search teams continued scouring a 9-square-mile area in the wilderness below Gannett Peak, the highest point in the state.
Three helicopters and a fixed-wing plane continued to search from the air while another search team was flown in to join the two teams already on the ground.
"This is still a rescue mission at this point, and we're focusing on that," incident commander Chip Williams said.
Searching in an area where the timber is thick and ravines and cliffs are steep, the conditions are tough and requires expert mountaineering.
"Even on a good day we have wind gusts up to 50 mph and the deep snow is hampering the ground crews as they move up the drainages," Fremont County sheriff Sgt. Ryan Lee said. "But they're chugging right through."
But they are getting exhausted. Two ground crews were expected to leave the search site Thursday night to rest and resupply, Lee said. They'll be back on Friday morning, he said.
And so will the sea of blue spreading through Minnesota.
Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report. Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788