Pasco Backs the Blue is a local non-profit organization dedicated to showing local law enforcement agencies that the residents of Pasco County support their sheriff’s office and police departments. Founded in 2020, Pasco Backs the Blue has two ways in which to show our LEOs and first responders our appreciation: a fundraising event to donate to the Pasco County Fallen Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Benefit Foundation and to scholarships for the police and fire academies, as well as a thank you letter writing campaign.
The rally committee held the first Red, White and Back the Blue Rally at Gill Dawg, in Port Richey, on October 17, 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. Three bands performed, donated baskets full of merchandise and gift certificates and a table full of bottles of spirits were raffled off. There was a 50/50 drawing. Pasco Backs the Blue t-shirts were available for purchase. The event was kicked off by Congressman Gus Bilirakis praising and thanking our dedicated law enforcement officers. The residents of Pasco had witnessed the “defund the police” demonstrations on the news and responded by attending the rally. Nearly 2,000 people came out to show their support to our local police departments and sheriff’s office. They made donations, bought raffle tickets and t-shirts. With the corporate sponsors and the income from the rally, a donation of $11,000 was given to the committee members of the Pasco County Fallen Law Enforcement Officer Memorial and Benefit Foundation.
The thank you letter committee ran a campaign called Pops for Cops. This committee worked with numerous elementary and K-8 schools to encourage our children to appreciate law enforcement officers too. Literally hundreds upon hundreds of thank you letters were written by the students. Each received a lollipop for his/her efforts. Additionally, a lollipop was included with each thank you letter for the officers. When the Pops for Cops committee members visited each school with a Sheriff’s deputy, the students listened to a presentation and learned all about being a law enforcement officer. Then they presented the officer with their thank you notes and lollipops. At the schools where the thank you notes were received after the very first batch, the deputy told the children how much the other deputies appreciated the notes and enjoyed receiving them. Respectful, grateful children become respectful, grateful adults.
There will be a Heroes Festival this year on Saturday, October 15, 2022 at Gill Dawg in Port Richey featuring country singer and songwriter Patrick Gibson, starting at 4 PM. Tickets will be available on Event Brite. Corporate sponsors and vendor table applications are still being accepted, donations for raffle baskets are needed, please contact PascoBacksTheBlue2020@Gmail.com.
All net proceeds from the evening event will be donated to the Pasco County Fallen Law Enforcement Officer Memorial and Benefit Foundation and scholarships for local high school seniors to attend the police academy and the fire academy: two grass-roots, volunteer-run, local, non-profit organizations. The Pasco County Fallen Law Enforcement Officer Memorial and Benefit Foundation has been working to build a memorial for Pasco, the last County in the state of Florida to have a dedicated space to recognize our law enforcement officers that are hurt or killed in the line of duty. Once the memorial has been completed, all remaining and future funds will be used to help such officers and their families with financial burdens.
All net proceeds from the daytime event at Waterfront Park will go to Investigation Station. This nonprofit organization is a children’s museum that creates interactive exhibits for children and their caregivers to experience for free, on their own time in Pasco County. They have created three public exhibits to date and have more to come. The current exhibits include a one-mile scaled model of the solar system called From the Sun to Pluto in Starkey Wilderness Park, a traveling STEM exhibit called Kidstruction in the Pasco County Library System and the Water Cycle Splash Pad at the Veterans Memorial Park. A geology of Florida exhibit is in the works for the Cotee River Walk Park in the City of New Port Richey and a flag exhibit promoting patriotism is in the initial stages of creation.