Jacob Pickett Response Organization Helps Law Enforcement Members and Family Get Through Difficult Times
Writer / Julie Yates
On March 4th, the fifth annual Jacob Pickett Response Organization Remembrance Day was held at the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds. The organization was created to honor the life of a fallen deputy from the Boone County Sheriff’s office, but also to provide aid to those in need within the law enforcement family. With the hashtag #RespondLikeJake, the non-profit has benefited seven families and raised over $45,000 since it became a 501(c)(3). The goal of the organization is to continue the spirit in which Jason Pickett lived life– it gives support to those facing tragedies.
In March of 2018, Pickett was shot while attempting to apprehend a wanted suspect. He left behind a family which included two young sons. Grateful for how the community rallied, his surviving wife, Jen Pickett, wanted to find a positive way to give back plus continue how her husband responded when he learned someone needed help.
“What motivated me was that when Jake was killed, all you saw in the headlines was a negative narrative. It was hard. It overshadowed Jake and how he lived. I wanted him to be remembered for how he lived and not how he died,” Pickett says.
“On the first anniversary of his death, we held a Remembrance Day to try to change the narrative. We talked about how he lived and raised money to send the deputies he worked with to Washington D.C. to attend National Police Week. Jake and other law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty were honored at the National Police Memorial,” Pickett says.
After the first Remembrance Day, Pickett’s friends and people involved in organizing the event asked her if she wanted to continue it as a tradition. However, she wasn’t sure what the purpose for doing it again would be. Then she found out that a friend who was married to a deputy had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
“It broke my heart. I just sat on the porch and cried. I thought if Jake was here, he would drop everything to mow their grass. We would do jobs together. Then I thought, I can use the Remembrance Day event to raise funds to help the family,” Pickett says.
“That second Remembrance Day was the first fundraiser for a family. I used to be a teacher and I had no nonprofit experience. It was all completely new. In the years since we have helped other families through donations, in-kind donations and corporate sponsors. Remembrance Day spotlights families with their permission so people know exactly where their money is going,” she says.
This year’s Remembrance Day was filled with activities that both raised money and benefitted the community. The Response & Run Memorial 5K was held in the morning. The afternoon included the annual Deputy Pickett Remembrance Day Blood Drive, food trucks, vendor booths, photo booth, bounce house, corn hole and silent auction bidding. There were police demonstrations held throughout the day to highlight different facets of law enforcement, like special response teams.
Throughout the year, if the organization sees a need arise, it steps up to help. Other sources of raising money have included special events such as charity polo matches, and this year, plans are being made to hold a car show in late summer or early fall. However, the organization maintains a personal touch when offering help.
“We are not just an organization that hands over a check. While we do raise funds for medical bills, we also put things in place that can make a difference when someone is going through a tragedy. We have partnered with a vet so a family could have doggy day care. Other things we have set in place is providing a meal subscription service and contracting lawn care, so those things don’t have to be worried about,” Pickett says.
“We are 100% volunteer run, and any little bit of time someone can give makes a huge difference. We keep services people offer in our back pocket in case there is a need. Even the smallest donations really add up. Our website includes Jake’s badge number, 626, which is now retired. Jake was the type of person who would help an animal or stranger, as well as a friend. We want to #RespondLikeJake.