Brother and sister use birthday donations to buy K-9 Jackson life-saving vest
WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Every year, instead of birthday presents, the Sullivan siblings from Waukesha, buy something special for someone, or something else. As CBS 58's Jessob Reisbeck shows us, this year it's a special vest for a special dog.
"We like to be different and even if no one else is doing it, we still want to do what we believe is right," said Aislin Sullivan, 3rd grader at Holy Apostles School.
Nine-year-old Aislin Sullivan and hear 11-year-old brother, Finley, are definitely different, especially when it comes to birthdays.
"We decided originally that we wanted to have our birthday together so we could do bigger parties," said Finley Sullivan, 6th grader at Holy Apostles School.
"It could be anywhere between 100-300 people," said Alana Sullivan, Finley and Aislin's mom.
For most kids that would mean tons of presents, but not the Sullivans. Every year, their parents ask them a question.
"I ask them, 'Do you want a party, gifts, a donation?' Every year, without a thought, it's a donation," said Alana.
Each year, Finley and Aislin choose what type of charity they want to make a donation to. Over the years it's been military, homeless, veterans, and kids.
"Then I find a good reputable charity to donate to," said Alana.
This year, it's Wisconsin Vest-A-Dog, a Janesville company with the mission of getting every police dog in Wisconsin a bullet-proof and stab-proof vest.
And guess what K-9 officer was at the top of Vest-A-Dog's list? K-9 Jackson, the Waukesha County sheriff K-9 named after Jackson Sparks, the youngest victim of the Waukesha parade attack.
"It's actually the same type of dog as our dog, so it's a cool intervention of serendipitous things of why it's so cool that our kids are getting to donate to K-9 Jackson," said Alana.
"I have no idea how it is to go through that, and I know that nothing can ever replace that, and nothing can ever cover the wounds that have happened but doing this is kind of like honoring your family so it's kind of an honor for us to do that for everyone," said Finley.
"It's sad but at the same time it also feels kind of nice that they're honoring him and keeping his name going," said Aislin.
On Monday, Feb. 20, in front of hundreds of excited students wearing "Jerseys for Jackson" at Holy Apostles School in New Berlin, K-9 Jackson was given his new vest.
Jackson's handler, Deputy Patrick Maylen, was there to put it on him.
"He's my partner and my best friend. I'm with him all the time. Us as police officers, we all wear bullet resistant vests on patrol so it's only fair that Jackson has one too. It's comforting to know that he's protected just like I am," said Deputy Maylen.
Other members of the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department were there, as well, and Sheri and Tucker sparks -- Jackson's mom and brother.
"Seeing the kids is a little hard sometimes seeing the ones Jackson's age, but it's still the energy all together is pretty amazing. Every time I see K-9 Jackson, I hear about him. I see him driving by, it's another reminder of my Jackson," said Sheri Sparks.
It's another reminder that Jackson will never be forgotten.
"I think Jackson would be really proud of this. He would've been wowed," said Sheri.
K-9 vests cost around $1,000, last about five years, and K-9 Jackson can wear his 24/7.