Franklin — Former Johnson County Reserve Deputy Ramona Jackson is remembered for the love she had for serving her community. Jackson died by suicide in 2019 and now the Franklin Wrestling Club is working to make sure her legacy is about more than the way she died, while also addressing the issue of suicide.
"It's even tough for me to say it with the stigma. But that's what we're trying to get over here. We want this awareness. We want people to know. We want people to help," Coach Jim Tonte said.
Tonte and his team of wrestlers will donate 25% of the proceeds from a golf ball drop this weekend to add Deputy Jackson's name to a first-of-its-kind memorial being built in Texas which will honor police officers who died by suicide. Tonte says the issue of mental health is something that needs to be tackled head-on. It's a conversation he has with his wrestlers.
"We even talked a little bit about you know, how some kids at the high school level get bullied, and it even pushes kids in that area, to think and contemplate some of the things we're discussing," Tonte said.
The monument is being built by the organization 'Blue Help' which honors the service of officers who died by suicide and offers comfort to their families. According to Blue Help, 125 officers have ended their own life this year. Kelli Lowe is the President of the National Police Wives Association. She says officers who die by suicide are not recognized the same as officers killed in the line of duty. Lowe says it's important to recognize that the people who answer the call for help, sometimes need help too.
"She went out there as a volunteer, protecting and serving her community. Lost her life to a challenge, but we as a community appreciate that service. Let us help this department grieve. Let us help this family understand that we appreciated what she was, who she was, and what she did for us a community," Lowe said.
The golf ball drop which, will pay for Jackson's memorial will take place at 8:45 a.m. on September 27th at the Tameka Woods Golf Course in Trafalgar (4849 S. CR 450 W, TRAFALGAR IN 46181). Golf balls will be dropped from a helicopter and the ball that lands closest to the whole will win 50% of the total prize. 25% will pay for the memorial and the remaining 25% will go the Franklin Wrestling Club.