October 22, 1989, is a day that mother Patty Wetterling will never forget. On that dark autumn day, her 11-year-old son Jacob was stolen from her by a stranger, outside a supermarket. The Wetterling family has never stopped hoping that their beloved boy would come home, and many questions remain unanswered. Who took their young boy? And where is he now? Jacob has never been found, but his family continues to hope that one day, they will get answers. They launched the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center to help raise awareness about child abductions and sexual exploitation and attempt to help other families in similar situations. The Wetterlings have also developed a sketch of what Jacob would look like today. But on his birthday, 27 years after her son’s disappearance, Patty chose to remember her son as the young boy he once was. The day of his birthday, February 17, Patty also wrote him a touching letter, in which she expresses the hope that all missing children in the world will one day be found. She also asks that more people get involved to help prevent kidnapping and child abuse in general. Last but not least, she expresses her undying love for her son – wherever he may be.
Here’s Patty’s letter to her son:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACOB!
Birthdays are supposed to be about parties, hats and noisemakers, cake, ice cream, friends singing and making wishes but not yet. Not this year, again. How I wish to wrap my arms around you and hug you tight! I have watched the tape of your last birthday party over and over. We rented a suite at the Holiday Inn for your party. You and Aaron raced back and forth in the pool and took turns throwing each other in the deep end. It was so much fun!
I want you to know that since you were stolen away from us, people everywhere have been searching, praying and hoping for your safety and for answers. Last fall, 26 years later, news of possible answers had your story as the number two news coverage in the region. That’s pretty amazing 26 years later. People care. There are more good people than bad in the world and people still hope.
My birthday wish is for you to come home. We need to find you. I have another wish for every child who is home safe today, that they will never have to endure abduction or sexual exploitation of any type. We are working just as hard on prevention as we are on searching because this is so wrong…so unfair. I remember how much it bothered you when things were unfair. Me too, it bothers me too.
I am hoping and praying that people will remember you on February 17 and we ask that everyone hug their kids a little tighter, tell them that they love them and take time to play a game or read books. My wish is also that parents will support agencies that help to find our missing kids and help other victims. Today, we ask everyone to volunteer, attend events, send financial support and share safety information. The non-profit work continues on a daily basis. Sometimes sexual exploitation and abduction are on the news, and sometimes not, yet we all rely on the support and expertise of these agencies when we need them. They are there for us. They need our support as well.
And once again today, February 17, we will light our candles, fix your favorite foods and cake, and thank God for the gift of you.
We love you Jacob and we’ll never stop searching for you!
I so wish for a happy birthday for you…
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