Minnesotans have another way to honor Jacob Wetterling.
On Friday, the Minnesota Vikings announced a partnership with the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center to make it easy for fans to donate to the organization, which assists the families of missing and exploited children and works to prevent crimes against children.
By texting the word “JACOB” to 91999, fans can make a one-time $11 (suggested) donation to the resource center, which was founded by Jerry and Patty Wetterling. The campaign began Friday.
Jacob’s remains were found early this month near Paynesville, Minn., after Danny Heinrich led authorities to them. Heinrich faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on a child pornography charge, part of a plea deal in which he agreed to confess to sexually assaulting and murdering 11-year-old Jacob in 1989. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 21.
The center has been the first call for help for many Minnesota families suspecting child abuse, exploitation and abductions in their communities. A few days after advocates at the center learned the harrowing details of what happened to Jacob, they were back on the job helping other children who are abused, neglected, exploited and missing.
“Jacob’s legacy through the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center is a place where people are kind, fair and honest,” the resource center said in a statement. “This campaign will support the mission of JWRC to provide safety education to thousands of children in Minnesota and the nation.”
In the days after Jacob’s remains were found, the Vikings discussed ways to honor and remember him.
The team reached out to the resource center, and with guidance from the Wetterling family, decided on the donation drive, said Jeff Anderson, Vikings executive director of communications.
The $11 suggested donation is a nod to the #11forJacob movement, which centers around 11 simple traits. Jacob had a strong sense that people should be kind and fair, said Christopher Stauffer, a spokesman for Gundersen Health System, which works alongside the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center.
It was also his sports jersey number.
“Jacob, who loved sports and wanted to be a football player, believed in a fair and just world where all children know they are special and deserve to be safe,” the Vikings said in an e-mail announcing the partnership.
During the first quarter of Sunday night’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium against the Green Bay Packers, the team will announce the campaign and present their $11,000 contribution to the resource center.
“We really think the game will provide the platform for the donations and encourage fans in the stadium to donate,” Anderson said.
The Vikings have invited the Wetterlings to the stadium, where the family will watch Sunday’s game from a private area as their home team presents a gift to the organization they started to save other children from the fate their son suffered.