Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

Widows of Utah's fallen officers present leadership scholarships

By Pat Reavy, Deseret News

Published: Tue, May 6 1:57 p.m. MDT

 Kristie Beesley, left, Nannette Wride and Shante Johnson pose for a photo following a ceremony awarding scholarships in the name of their husbands in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, May 6, 2014.

Kristie Beesley, left, Nannette Wride and Shante Johnson pose for a photo following a ceremony awarding scholarships in the name of their husbands in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, May 6, 2014.

(Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — When Tore and Mona Steen of Park City established the 1033 Foundation in 2011, it was to honor Utah's fallen officers by providing their families with immediate financial support.

Now the 1033 Foundation wants to also honor the memories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice by paying it forward.

On Tuesday, the first ever recipients of the Leadership Scholarship Award Program were announced. Each scholarship recipient — a high school student who has a parent currently active in law enforcement — received $2,500 in the name of an officer killed in the line of duty.

Students on Tuesday received awards in the names of Utah's most recent fallen officers: Ogden police officer Jared Francom, Utah Highway Patrol trooper Aaron Beesley, Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson and Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride.

The widows and families of three of the officers, Beesley, Johnson and Wride, were in attendance to personally present each recipient with the scholarship that holds their husbands' names.

"This is just a really incredible experience. I feel just humbled by this whole thing and really, really grateful to the families of the officers who have served in the line of duty and passed away," said Shaun Bartschi, who became the first recipient of the Jared Francom Leadership Award.

Shaun, a student at Mountain Crest High School, is the son of Cache County Sheriff's Sgt. Mikelshan Bartschi. His father, he said, is a friend of Shawn Grogan, who was injured in the shootout that killed Francom.

Kassidy Chamberlain of Grantsville High School is the recipient of the Aaron Beesley Leadership Award. Her father is Grantsville Police Lt. Dan Chamberlain.

"It always runs through my mind that he might not come home. Seeing the families that have gone through so much and they're willing to put a scholarship in their name, it's wonderful to see the people we're living with today that they're trying to take their loss and turn it into something great for others," she said.

Monica McCoy, of Smithfield, who is the daughter of Smithfield Police Chief Johnny McCoy, was brought to tears talking about how honored she is to be the first recipient of the Cory Wride Leadership Award.

"I can't even put to words the honor that I feel holding this plaque with his name on it," she said. "I will educate myself and make him proud."

Manila High School student Rebecca Collett, of Dutch John, is the daughter of Daggett County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Christopher Collett. Rebecca is the recipient of the Derek Johnson Leadership Award.

Shante Johnson, Derek Johnson's widow, was also in tears as she presented Rebecca with her scholarship. "Always remember you're better than you think you are," were the words of advice she gave the teen.

After the ceremony, Johnson praised the scholarship program, and said she appreciates having her husband's name associated with it.

"I think it's an incredible gift that we're able to give back to our police families to help our kids go through college," she said. "It's a terrific honor. And I think it's a great way to honor Derek by helping other kids get through school."

When presenting Monica with her scholarship, Nanette Wride told her how much her husband enjoyed teaching. She gave her words of wisdom that Cory Wride used to give his students.

"Kill 'em with kindness," she said.

Utah Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, was the master of ceremonies for Tuesday's event. Before handing out scholarships, he addressed a current controversy regarding Wride's retirement pension. His death exposed a flaw in the state's retirement plan for police officers. Van Tassell said he believes that issue will be resolved by the end of the next legislative session.

"When someone gives the ultimate sacrifice of their life, surely you've earned your retirement pension to go on to your family," said Van Tassell, whose comments received a strong ovation from the audience.

The 1033 Foundation, named after the Utah police code for "officer needs help immediately," was established in 2011. Families of officers or firefighters killed in the line of duty are presented with $25,000 within 24 hours of that officer's death. Francom's family became the first recipients of the program in 2012.

For the $2,500 scholarships handed out Tuesday, high school students submitted essays about leadership.

"Leadership has it ups and downs. I feel everybody makes mistakes. But I feel the key to being a good leader is to learn from those mistakes and always put service to others first," Shuan said.

Rebecca talked about her father in her essay about leadership.

Kassidy, who is the student body president at Grantsville High as well as head of the cheerleading squad and a member of the National Honor Society, said leadership to her, means getting involved with one's community.

"I just always feel like I want to do my best for my community," she said. "I just love the feeling of helping others."

Francom, a member of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force, was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2012. Beesley was killed a few months later while rescuing two stranded teenage hikers from Mt. Olympus. He lost his footing and fell approximately 60 feet. Johnson and Wride were each shot and killed while attempting to help whom they thought were stranded motorists.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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1. suzyk#1
Mount Pleasant, UT,
May 7, 2014

Each one of those choices officers deserve this honor and recognition. I worry about all of our officers and the danger they face every day of their lives. We pray for them and I pray the Lord's blessings will be upon all of the wives and their children. I'm so thankful they are being recognized for their service.