Alice was 2 years old when she was diagnosed with a crippling genetic disorder in 1977. She died in 1980.
Friends of her parents, Kate and Trav Paine, decided to place the memorial in the 500 block of Telfair Street as a tribute to the Paine family and the love that bound them together in good times and bad, according to an e-mail from Trav Paine.
The statue disappeared between 9 a.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Monday, according to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
The statue is valued at $5,000 and is just under 3 feet tall; it sat on a pedestal of pink granite that raised the total height to about 6 feet 6 inches. The pedestal had been knocked over when the disappearance was discovered, the sheriff's office said.
"We still cannot believe that anyone would really steal a monument that meant so much to so many," Paine said.
The sculpture was created by renowned artist Marshall Daugherty, who struggled at first with the concept of memorializing a dying child. Daugherty finally settled on the image of a mother holding up a laughing child.
Wrote Daugherty: "This sculpture carries a message of love, tenderness, self-sacrifice and joy. It speaks of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity and of the special relationship between mother and daughter."