A Deed of Legacy Nov 11, 2014
A DEED OF LEGACY BORN FROM TRAGEDY By Randy Sutton
“You cannot choose your destiny but you can create your legacy”. Often -times legacy is born from tragedy, as intense emotions seem to be fertile ground for growing ideas that blossom into a pathway to help others. The savage murders of Las Vegas Police Officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck who were targeted and gunned down while having lunch, stunned and outraged the community at large but much more so, the officers of the Metro Police and their families. The “there but for the Grace of God go I” understanding that each day a cop puts on his or her uniform may be their last, ripped through the hearts and minds of wives, husbands and children of those who serve. The viciousness of the attack and the ripple effect that is still being felt, months after the murders is very much a reality to those touched by the senseless loss of two good men.
Jessica Langgin is the 16 year wife of Las Vegas Police Sergeant Mel Langgin, a 24 year veteran of the department . If you were to assign a title to Jessica as to her occupation, it would probably be “housewife” or whatever politically correct term for a “stay at home Mother” is prevalent today to describe a woman who is working with her husband to raise two teen-aged children. So she was particularly sensitive to the plight of the families of the slain officers who both left young children behind. The Las Vegas Community rallied behind the Officers and various fundraisers were established to help the families and organizations from throughout the city encouraged their members to help. The outpouring of support was amazing and is a true demonstration of how caring people truly are when moved by tragedy. Jessica and other spouses rallied around the families of the slain officers and while doing so, Jessica was transported back to a time when the support of family and friends touched her life in a dramatic way. Jessica had one small child and was pregnant with their second when she received the devastating medical diagnosis of Cancer. Her world turned upside down and life was altered forever. While she was undergoing the painful and emotionally as well as physically draining treatments, it was a loosely organized group of wives of those her husband worked with who rushed in to help. Preparing meals, transporting the kids, and just being there for her in those terribly frightening and lonely moments meant the world to her. When she recovered, she became a volunteer for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and tirelessly raised funds for the organization and other cancer related charities, being recognized several years in a row as the top fundraiser.
The aftermath of the killing of the officers and her own experience with being the recipient of the support of others germinated the seed of an idea that had been lying dormant for several years… the idea to give everyone the ability to help someone in need, whether they could afford donate five dollars or five thousand. With the financial and technical assistance of a local businessman who wanted to help but receive no public credit for doing so, OFFICERDOWN.US was born.
“People are amazing”, Jessica told me with her husband looking proudly on. “People WANT to help others. They just need an outlet that makes it as easy as possible to do it. So many people reached out to our WIVES Facebook group saying that they wanted to donate directly to the families.” Crowd funding is still in its infancy and is generally used to fund projects involving the arts or start-up businesses. OFFICERDOWN.US basically allows the everyday person to reach out to the world and ask support for a law enforcement officer or law enforcement cause that is in need. It may be for an officer who was burned or even a police service dog that needs a ballistic vest to protect him. It is an outlet for those who care, to share the plight of others, in order to give a helping hand. Jessica told me, “Anyone in Law Enforcement or associated with Law Enforcement Officers in need, anywhere in the United States, are welcome to create a page and ask for help. We try to make it as easy as possible to both create a campaign and to GIVE to it.” All donations are tax deductable as OFFICERDOWN.US is an approved not for profit charity.
Perhaps it is best summed up by Police Officer Ann McSwain who while investigating a deranged man who had set himself on fire, attacked her, setting her on fire as well. She received serious injuries from her burns and was one of the first persons to be helped by OFFICERDOWN.US. She said,
“ During all of the negative news that surrounds law enforcement nowadays, even from our President, it was incredible so many reached out to me. These wonderful people don’t know me personally; rather, they were reaching out to a law enforcement Officer and it was awesome to know so many still trust, need and believe in “us” and what we do. Given the exact same circumstances, I would do it again, even knowing what the outcome for me would be. There were many people that fateful day who were going about their lives and they had no idea what was in the suspect’s mind nor what his intentions were that day. The suspect’s hate-filled act that day has produced so much love and support and that’s the story I want out there: out of a hateful act, tremendous love and support has happened, and it continues to this day. I have always believed in working hard and doing the right thing and that good things will come from it. I am thankful I was there that day. I have a long road of recovery ahead, but it was worth it. Thank you to all who contributed. I will NEVER forget it and I will live each day hoping I can make a difference and be worthy of all of the love and support.
How do I thank you and all of the wonderful people for helping me when I needed it most? I don’t know, but I promise I will spend the rest of my life trying to live up to it, and I will also dedicate my life to helping others in need.”
There are many ways to become a “hero”. The simplest act of reaching out to another human being and showing kindness and compassion may have far reaching effects on the life of that person. It may also have the same effect on the person who has touched that man, woman or child for that is in and of itself….Legacy. Jessica Langgin is a woman touched by tragedy who has learned that in giving to others, her own life becomes more fulfilling through The Power of Legacy.