ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. — The family of fallen Adams County Deputy Heath Gumm got a special delivery from a Florida teenager, who hand delivered several hand-made bears.
Deputy Gumm was shot and killed in the line of duty on Jan. 24, 2018.
16-year-old Megan O’Grady came up with the idea for “Blue Line Bears” after the 2016 ambush in Dallas, Texas where five officers were shot and killed.
“My dad is a police officer where we live. It’s my biggest fear to lose him. That’s why I started it. My whole life, I have been close to police officers, they’ve always been my heroes,” O’Grady said.
“But then it dawned on me that not everyone sees police officers this way. A lot of people go out of their way to attack police officers. I just wanted to step up and do something for their families,” she added.
The teen contacts police departments after learning about line of duty deaths.
“The only thing I ask for is a uniform shirt from the family or the police department,” O’Grady said. “I want them to kind of hold a piece of their loved one again because the shirts are the most personal part of the job, aside from the badge itself.”
“We do special embroidery of their name and officers on their chest and the end of watch date and Blue Line Bears on both feet. And the name of who it is going to on one of the paws. We put it all together with a St. Michael medal that has been blessed by a priest,” she added. “I hope it brings some comfort to families. It’s very hard losing someone, especially when it’s someone in the line of duty.”
So far, she has delivered 450 bears to law enforcement families around the country. This latest delivery is her largest donation to date.
She brought 15 bears to the Adams County Sheriff’s Substation.
“I’ve said all along this is a family. I wanted to make sure the Gumm family got one, but also the law enforcement family. Each of the divisions in the sheriff’s office will receive one of these bears,” Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh said.
Deputy Gumm’s family was clearly moved by the gift. They thanked Megan and hugged her.
“Oh, it’s great. When Heath was little, I called him my buddy bear. So yeah, I got a little buddy bear again,” Gumm’s father, Jim Gumm said.
He said the family has been amazed by the continuing show of support.
“It’s just amazing. Its everyone. We never realized how many good people there are in the world,” he said.
Sheriff McIntosh said he knew Megan didn’t want anything in return, but he presented her with a check from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office Foundation.
“Blue Line Bears isn’t just about giving the bears to the family. It’s about building relationships with them and letting them know there are people out there supporting them,” she said. “It’s hard to see the families, but it’s important for me to see them because it makes me feel good about what I am doing.”