CLEARFIELD – In Dec. 2016, Jay Stocking, owner of Sierra Homes, approached the <a href=”http://cvhba.com/”>Cache Valley Home Builders Association</a> (CVHBA) with an idea for the organization’s 2017 service project—raising funds to benefit the wife and children of <a href=”http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/local/article_0477e914-b1a1-11e6-bd48-ef4c81e57392.html”>fallen Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Eric Ellsworth</a>, who died of injuries he sustained on Nov. 18, 2016 while directing traffic near a low-hanging powerline near Garland.
“Jay came to us and said, ‘We have to help this widow,’” said Kristi Summers, the CVHBA’s executive officer. “People sometimes get it in their heads that she’ll be taken care of, but that’s not necessarily the case. She’s got three boys to raise, and they’re still tiny. If we can help her with one little piece, that’s what we’d like to do.”
With a goal of raising enough money to pay off Janica Ellsworth’s mortgage, the CVHBA has coordinated a <a href=”http://cvhba.com/givingback/”>Trooper Ellsworth Fundraising Day</a> on Saturday, June 10, at <a href=”https://www.davis.k12.ut.us/Domain/7356″>Clearfield High School</a>, Trooper Ellsworth’s alma mater.
“At first, we just started seeking donations,” said Summers, “but then we decided that wasn’t good enough, and it grew to this full-day event. We chose to do it in Clearfield because that’s the area where he’s from.”
With 100% of net proceeds going to support Ellsworth’s family, the CVHBA’s “Day of Charity and Fun” includes a 5K fun run and 1-mile walk; firefighters pancake breakfast; kid’s carnival and lunch; honor balloon launch; bake sale and silent auction; catered dinner; and live auction. Organizers are still seeking <a href=”https://secure.processdonation.org/cvhba/Donation.aspx”>donations</a>, <a href=”https://secure.processdonation.org/cvhba/events.aspx?eventRefID=AHB74E2091E76FF”>sponsors</a>, <a href=”http://cvhba.com/givingback/”>vendors and volunteers</a>, but say the most important invitation they can extend is for <a href=”https://secure.processdonation.org/cvhba/events.aspx?eventRefID=130BCJG06G2HJ94″>community support</a>.
“We’re just a bunch of rookies,” said Steven Cottle, one of Ellsworth’s best friends from high school. “We don’t know what we’re doing. We’re just trying to put something together to celebrate Eric’s life, and the biggest thing people can do is sign up. Wherever the money ends up is where it ends up, but if we can get a bunch of people out there, we can have fun remembering Eric in a good way.”
Since Ellsworth’s passing, Cottle said there have been months of memorials, including a vigil at the National Mall in Washington, DC and a permanent tribute to him—a 20-foot by 12-foot cross funded by an anonymous donor—recently erected on private land adjacent to I-15 in Willard. Cottle said the Trooper Ellsworth Fundraising Day is an extension of these efforts, honoring his friend’s service and directly helping his family in his absence.
Having grown up in West Point, Ellsworth followed in his father’s footsteps to pursue a career in law enforcement. He was a seven-year UHP veteran who served for two years in Green River before transferring to Brigham City, where he patrolled throughout Box Elder County. He is remembered as being devoted to his work and his family, often going above and beyond to serve his community.
At his passing, Utah Governor Gary Herbert called Ellsworth “an exceptional second generation UHP trooper who cared deeply for his young family” and a “committed public servant [who] paid the ultimate sacrifice while keeping others safe from harm.”
Friends like Cottle and admirers like Stocking, who didn’t know the fallen trooper personally but was driven to help nonetheless, agree that the best way to remember Eric Ellsworth is to help provide Janica Ellsworth with the financial resources necessary to raise their children.
“These officers are out there working hard for us, to keep us safe and look out for our best interests, and sometimes I think we take it for granted,” said Stocking. “This officer was out there trying to keep people safe and was hit by a car and killed, and his family no longer gets to have Dad come home. They grow up knowing he was a hero, but that doesn’t replace him. I just figured we could make a small difference by helping with their financial burden. It doesn’t take much from a lot of people to help out a family. If we can pay off her house with a little contribution from each person, we can lighten their load. These men and women who are out there serving, we need to have their back when they need it because they have ours every day when they’re out there serving.”
Registration information, ticket purchases and sponsorship opportunities for the Trooper Ellsworth Fundraising Day are available online at <a href=”http://cvhba.com/givingback/”>cvhba.com/givingback</a>. The CVHBA is coordinating the event through its 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable organization, the CVHBA Giving Back Foundation.
“Clearfield really is a super quick drive,” said Summers. “We’re super excited and hope we can pay off this house.”