Ben Franklin donates to Behind the Badge

Although police and bunny rabbits might sound like an unlikely partnership, both were present last week as Ben Franklin Crafts & Frame Shop in Monroe (19505 SR 2) presented a $2,380 donation to the Behind the Badge Foundation.

The money was raised at Ben Franklin's fourth-annual Easter photo event held during the last weekend in March and the first weekend in April. For a suggested donation of $10, kids could have their Easter photos taken with as many live bunny rabbits as they wanted.-á

Coordinated by Monroe resident Kris Stamey, the volunteer-driven Easter photo event featured bunnies supplied by 4-H members from Snohomish County and beyond.

Stamey, who is married to Monroe Police Officer Darryl Stamey, has organized the event since it started four years ago.-á

"We've got kids that come back every single year and remember the name of the rabbits that they had each year,GÇ¥ Stamey said. "They love it. A lot of kids are afraid of a giant bunny in a costume, but an animal that they can hold and pet? It is so much fun to watch those kids. We get such a kick out of it!GÇ¥

Each year, an Easter-themed backdrop is created inside of the store, and kids are able to choose from an assortment of different rabbits brought to the event by 4-H members. This year's event took place March 27, 28 and 29, and April 3 and 4. -á

"Every day, they brought different rabbits, so we wouldn't stress the rabbits out,GÇ¥ Stamey said. "We had little, tiny 2-pound rabbits, all the way up to a Flemish Giant.GÇ¥

To help her manage the event, Stamey solicited help from other members of the community, including her husband, who has volunteered as a photographer every year since the event started. Other volunteers this year included Molly Patton, who is married to Monroe Police Officer Javier Patton; Trina Eriks, who is married to Officer Jake Eriks; Tracy Mcmillan; Susan West; Snohomish County Explorer Loren Ross and Debbie Northey. -á -á

"Debbie's been my right-hand person every year doing this,GÇ¥ Stamey said. "I couldn't do it without her.GÇ¥

Several Ben Franklin staff volunteered to support the event, including Noni Cely and Dannie Mullene. They also supplied each participating 4-H member with a $10 gift card and a small amount of cash for donating their time to the event. -á

Sharing the benefits

Longtime Monroe Police Sgt. Brian Johnston accepted the check on behalf of Behind the Badge, a nonprofit agency dedicated to supporting families and communities in the event of a line-of-duty death or when an officer becomes seriously injured. A Monroe resident, Johnston serves as the organization's president.

A multi-faceted organization, Behind the Badge is the result of a marriage between two nonprofit agencies that had the same mission: honoring fallen law enforcement officers. The 10-99 Foundation was created to financially assist the surviving family members of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation was established to build the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial, which is located at the state capitol in Olympia.-á

Sgt. Johnston, an accomplished bagpiper, has been involved since the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial was first conceptualized in 1995 by retired Seattle Police Sgt. Frank Kampsen. It was through Johnston's bagpipe playing that he became acquainted with Kampsen, who decided that Washington state needed a law enforcement memorial of its own.-á

At that time, approximately 35 states had law enforcement memorials honoring fallen officers, but Washington did not. It took about a decade of fundraising and working, but finally, in 2005, they broke ground. The memorial, which is perched on the hillside overlooking Capitol Lake, was given to Washington state in May 2006 as a gift to the citizens.-á

"It took us a long time to build that memorial,GÇ¥ Johnston said. "It's owned by the state, but we have the ability and the responsibility to maintain and control it, so we have this really unique responsibility within the state of Washington.GÇ¥

After the memorial was completed, Kampsen stepped back and asked Johnston to take over as the president of the foundation. Within another year or so, the decision was made to combine the memorial foundation and the 10-99 Foundation. It was at this point, approximately eight years ago, that the Behind the Badge Foundation came into existence.

Behind the Badge is managed via a two-tiered board system made up of law enforcement professionals, family members of fallen officers, members of the business community and others. In addition to maintaining the law enforcement memorial in Olympia, Behind the Badge deploys all over Washington state anytime there is a line-of-duty death.-á

"Typically, what we do is make an offer to the agency,GÇ¥ Johnston said. "If they would like our assistance, then we come alongside at whatever level they want us.GÇ¥

The deployment teams have a significant degree of flexibility, so that they are able to be of maximum service to any agency. From planning the fallen officer's memorial service to supporting the agency as a whole to protecting the families, Behind the Badge is prepared to provide services immediately. The organization's level of involvement is completely dependent on the agency and the surviving family members. -á

"We center everything on what those family needs are and work out from there,GÇ¥ Johnston said. "We are there to guide and assist, not to dictate or decide.GÇ¥

Kris and Ben Franklin Crafts and Frame shop owner Adrian Taylor decided to donate the Easter photo funds to the Behind the Badge Foundation because they wanted to give back to the law enforcement community.-á

"I'm really happy we got to do the fundraiser this year for the Behind the Badge Foundation,GÇ¥ Stamey said. "It's something my husband and I really support.GÇ¥

She thanked Taylor for being willing to donate his facility and staff time to host the event.-á

"I am so grateful for Adrian's friendship and how much he has done for my family over the years. I don't think people know just how much he does for our community, especially the youth,GÇ¥ Stamey said. "I don't think I've ever heard him say the words, "No, it can't be done.'GÇ¥

"We will be back to see everyone's smiling faces again next year,GÇ¥ she continued.

The Behind the Badge Foundation is holding a Medal of Honor Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony from noon to 2 pm. on Friday, May 8, at the Law Enforcement Memorial in Olympia.

For more information on the Behind the Badge Foundation, visitá


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