Our Ira Cronin continues his journey from the Wyoming border to New Mexico as part of the SHIELD616 Border to Border Ride. On this special day, September 11, we'll hear from the officers taking part in this event and what it means to them to be raising funds to help protect our first responders.
Thank you to everyone who has donated so far in our virtual telethon to raise $48,500 to equip all members of Black Forest Fire and Rescue with protective equipment. In one day, we've raised more than $21,000 thanks to you. Your donation of $25 or more goes a long way to helping to protect our first responders.
On Day 1 of the ride, the SHIELD616 team stopped in Steamboat Springs to donate protective gear to every member of the police department. The gear includes 29 all-day rifle-rated ballistic vests, all thanks to donations to the non-profit organization.
All week long on News5 at 6 p.m., we'll bring you the stories of how your donation can help save lives. You'll hear from the those in the line of fire explain how protective gear has saved their lives, and you'll hear from their wives as they recount their worst fears when learning their husbands were shot in the line of duty.
SHIELD616 Founder and President Jake Skifstad, a former Colorado Springs Police officer, knows the most difficult challenges of being a first responder. Jake says, “We as law enforcement, we are expected to protect you from whatever threat there may be. If it involves a rifle, we don't have protection against that.”
In December of 2007, as a member of CSPD, Jake Skifstad says he clearly remembers the call of an active shooter at New Life Church. “You always think worst-case scenario. It's a call that you don't want to see and you know you have to get in there and do your job as fast as you can to help prevent any more casualties. It's just something that you will stick with you for the rest of your life if you have to experience it.”
Fast forward to November of 2015 when as a member of the CSPD Swat Team on Black Friday, his pager went off for an active shooter situation, the second in two months. “When I got that page I just remember reading it and thinking, ‘You've got to be kidding me, not again.’ It was one of the worst days of my career. When you strip away that uniform, the person behind that badge is a human being just like everybody else. We just train ourselves to go against the human nature of fleeing from danger, to turn around and run towards danger.”
SHIELD616 began with a focus on law enforcement in southern Colorado. “When we started SHIELD616 we were focusing right here in Colorado Springs on my brothers and sisters in blue and I wanted to make sure that they had the best gear available to them.”
The efforts grew to include firefighters and paramedics. Jake says, “We have had a couple of very close calls for the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Thankfully, no firefighters were hit, but they were extremely close to being hit, and they were absolutely in the hot zone. We want to make sure that they're also protected.”
To learn more about how SHIELD616 has helped our first responders, see the stories throughout the years as they've used your donations for this noble cause.