It started with a modest idea: Gather 50 patches from within the community to create a symbolic quilt for the son of one of Indiana’s local law enforcement following a tragic shootout that took place earlier in the year.
Mason Buckley, now 8 years old, came to school two days after his father, Sgt. Jordan Buckley, was hospitalized from being wounded by gunfire while serving an arrest warrant in Russiaville with his partner Deputy Carl Koontz on March 20.
Koontz died shortly after from sustained injuries, while Sgt. Jordan Buckley remained in the hospital recovering from his wounds.
"Did you know my dad’s like Superman?"
This is what Amy Willey, a teacher at Eastern Elementary School, remembers Mason saying to her just two days after his father was shot.
Her response was: “Your dad’s better than Superman.”
This prompted Willey to take action in order to show Mason how much his father means to the community, and how much all law enforcement means to the communities in which they serve.
“I thought there’s nothing I can do to make this better for anyone but if I could get 50 patches just from local people and people I know,” Willey said.
So Willey created the Patches for Buckley Facebook page. She invited her friends, and they invited their friends. And soon, news spread about Willey’s idea to gather patches and create a quilt for Mason.
But one thing Willey didn’t expect was for the outpouring of support to expand across continents and cultures.
Over 1,800 patches were sent in to the Howard County Sheriff’s department from all 50 states and six of the seven continents, all in support of Buckley and Koontz, and local law enforcement in general.
The original idea grew and the outcome became bigger than anything Willey could have ever expected, she said.
“And now it’s not even about the patches,” Willey said.
It’s about thanking all of our heroes, she said during the Real Heroes Wear Patches ceremony Thursday evening, where Mason Buckley was presented with a quilt that donned 187 local patches from across Indiana. Mason was also gifted a chest filled with patches, scrapbooks and letters showing appreciation for his father’s service.
“There’s a combination of a lot of things finally coming together,” said Sgt. Buckley following the ceremony and presentation at Memorial Gym. “It’s a great thing that the Willey’s did. It’s a lot of shell shock for [Mason], but I think as he gets older it’ll really start to sink in.”
Buckley was joined at the event by Kassie Koontz, the widow of Deputy Carl Koontz, who died in the line of duty.
Songs and dances were performed at the event by local talent. Attendees were encouraged to thank a man or woman in service.
“It’s just about being able to thank all of our heroes,” Willey said. “I mean, there’s nothing we could ever do to thank them enough.”
In August, Indiana Going Blue will hold a similar event presenting a patched quilt to Koontz's son, Willey said.
Cara Ball can be reached at 765-454-8565, email@example.com or on Twitter @CaraKTVideo.