Each Christmas a fallen officer’s widow is reminded of her family’s loss, the memories of Christmas past, and the worry of providing good memories for a new Christmas. For me, 2016 brought deep grief, sadness, and a silent worry how I would even survive another Christmas without Cory. Another wedding anniversary, just two days before Christmas and then just weeks away, in January, it meant he would die all over again in my mind…flashbacks and sleepless nights filled my days. I didn’t believe in the Christmas the spirit, even though I really wanted to. I couldn’t see past my own grief. As a small child I was taught that “Santa” was really the gift of giving… so yes! He was real.
My mind turned outward again to those around me and I was reminded of the internal war and heavy hearts of a lot of our officers, who work several jobs to just make ends meet. Widows and child survivors of our fallen officers feeling like December should just be a month where you stay in bed and hide. I fervently prayed to be shown the spirit of Christmas, to feel it again. That was my Christmas wish.
Days after my prayer The Blue Haven foundation was contacted by retired SLCPD Officer, turned realtor, Cristin Parks. Cristin wanted to use her network of business associates to help the families of our fallen officers here in Utah. By collaborating with Cristin and her powerful team, the Blue Haven foundation was blessed to help make miracles happen this Christmas season.
We heard the family of fallen officer Aaron Beelsey, EOW June 30, 2012, had a special Christmas wish. Kristy is an amazing widow raising an 11-year old boy and 9-year old twin boys. The boy’s Christmas wish was to take a family vacation. Their desire for this being so great, that they said they would rather do without the Christmas gifts just to get away as a family. The Blue Haven Foundation was able to coordinate officers from California, Utah, and local businesses to plan this and take care of the Beesleys. Groups and individuals all pitched in to fly the family to Legoland, in California for an all-expense paid vacation. The photos tell the story of how everything came together. We loved seeing how these seemingly simple things made them smile and helped create a perfect Christmas miracle.
While one miracle like this is enough to soften any heart, the Blue Haven Foundation was able to be a part of even more Christmas miracles. The family of Trooper Eric Ellsworth, EOW November 22, 2016 brought a most heartwarming Christmas spirit. Janica and Eric have Three beautiful little boys 7-year old Bennett, 5-year old Ian and 3-year old Ollie. A very special man, Trooper Royce Capehart, of Pennsylvania reached out to the Blue Haven Foundation; he had assembled five large boxes full of gifts for the boys from 35 states and numerous agencies across the US. These were shipped overnight to Blue Haven and delivered “lights and sirens” complete with widow mentors, child mentors, police officers, and Santa himself.
Our last Christmas miracle was for a Utah County Deputy with a large family. Even though he was holding down several jobs, and his sweet wife holds down a job, they still were struggling to make Christmas happen for their amazing kids. Again, businesses, and good citizens came forward and wanted to help. Each Christmas wish list was passed out; each child swooped up and taken care of. Wrapped gifts and donated money was delivered to the deputy (name withheld) so he could provide Christmas for his family. The tears of gratitude and the heart of this hero warmed all of us that day.
My heart was filled with gratitude for the goodness of people, the love I felt, and the prayers that were answered in miraculous ways. My heart was given hope for upcoming Christmas’…. And I remembered Santa really is real!