Candlelight vigil for Jake Wilson draws hundreds of area residents

Hundreds of area residents, members of law enforcement, firefighters and medical personnel gathered in La Porte City for a candlelight vigil on May 7, exactly one month since La Porte City teen Jake Wilson disappeared after setting out on a short walk to Wolf Creek.

Featured speakers included Pastor Nathan Clements of the American Lutheran Church, who offered a message of hope and prayer. Along with passages of scripture, he said, “Together, we continue to search. Together, we continue to pray. Together, we continue to hope that Jake Wilson will be brought home soon. Our community is not complete because we are missing one of our own. And though the days and nights pass by us with no answers for why Jake is missing and where Jake may be, we will not allow our hope of finding him to slip away from us.”

“Hope is what binds us together in this community. Hope is what gives us energy and perseverance in our searching. Hope is what compels thousands of volunteers from La Porte City and across Iowa and beyond to so selflessly give their time and energy to assist with searching and provide meals for all involved. Hope is what wraps our law enforcement officers, firefighters, medical caregivers, social service agencies and our families with the embrace of God’s presence when the days are long and the nights are longer.”

“Truly, the outpouring of support from our community and beyond is Christian witness at its finest. And God has been with us throughout,” he added.

“Jake: God is with you. God’s love surrounds you and nothing, nothing, can take that away from you. And the people gathered here tonight and the many, many others not with us now will not stop our search, nor will we give up hope until we bring you home,” he concluded.

Written in the days following his disappearance, Union High School sophomore Riley Rosauer shared an emotional poem entitled, “Dear Jake,” with those gathered at the vigil.

Amanda Goodman, Executive Director of Family & Children’s Council of Black Hawk County and former KWWL news anchor was the final speaker of the evening:

“So what do you do when thoughts and prayers don’t seem to be enough? What do you do when you leave your porch light on every single night, but he’s still not home? What do you do when you turn on the news and there’s no more mention of Jake’s name? What do you do when the paper no longer has his picture in it? What do you do when the fliers and the banners have become worn and tattered? What do you when you realize the world keeps spinning for everyone else? What do you do when you feel guilty when you get to kiss your own children goodbye as they head off to school, knowing that a seat is still empty at someone’s breakfast table? What do you do when you feel guilty you’re laughing with your children, knowing that silence has blanketed a family right here? What do you do when you feel that anger wash over you because Jake Wilson’s name is no longer a headline? It’s simply a tag. What do you do?
“We take back our village, that’s what we do- the village that looks after every child. The village that leaves that light on every single night for every single child that needs to find their way home. The village that will bring Jake home. The agony that Jake’s family is going through right now is all of our agony. It’s not their burden and their heartache alone. It’s all of ours. We have to help carry that for them.

“Jake is one of our children. He’s our son. He’s our brother. He’s our classmate. He’s our grandchild. He’s our nephew. He’s our friend and he needs us. The village- the village is family. It doesn’t matter if you’re here in La Porte or if you’re in Waterloo or Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines. It doesn’t matter if you’re in California or Pennsylvania or Washington state. When it’s a child, it’s our child. It’s all of our child. Jake is out there. He’s not safe because he’s not at home. And we must keep fighting until we bring him home.

“So what do we do? We say his name every single day. We share his picture every single day. We rely on the power of social media to blanket the country with his picture and his name. We ask others to share his picture and his name. There will be people, trust me, who will unfollow you. They will roll their eyes at you. They will tell you, ‘enough, already.’ There will people who will stop sharing his picture because they said, ‘I already did it once.’

“Those aren’t our people. We can’t control what’s in the headlines and what’s not. But I know this. There is nothing more powerful and impactful than the power of our voice and the power of social media. We keep posting his picture. We keep saying his name. We demand we see his picture everywhere. When the posters and the banners on the highways are worn and tattered, we put new ones up. We demand it. For every one that comes down, you put another one up- you add two. When news organizations no longer share his picture, his name, his story, we post it to their page and we demand to see his picture every day.

“When our blue ribbons become faded and ripped, we tie new ones. When people become arm chair detectives and start pointing fingers, we shut that down. He’s not just some kid from La Porte City who went missing. He has a name. He is Jake Wilson. He is outgoing. He loves his family. He loves the outdoors. He loves video games. He loves his friends. He loves life. Say his name- Jake Wilson. Say it tonight. Say it in the morning. Say it every day until he is home.”

BHCGA donation to aid search effort

On Thursday, May 10, local officials made a plea for financial assistance to help defray the cost of heavy equipment operations, estimated to cost $10,000, in the waterways where the search for Jake Wilson continues.

Less than 24 hours later, the Black Hawk County Gaming Association notified La Porte City Chief of Police Chris Brecher the organization was making a $10,000 donation to assist with search operations.