RIO, Ill. (WREX) – There’s much more to an officer than their badge and uniform.
The life of a law enforcement officer is in danger every day they leave for work.
However, their families at home also share in that burden.
“That’s my mom that’s my dad that’s my husband my wife ……they count. They’re important,” said Illinois State Police District 7 Officer Jason Wilson.
This year, we have already seen two families say goodbye to a loved one that never came home.
First on Jan. 12, trooper Christopher Lambert was struck by a vehicle while responding to a crash on Interstate 294.
Then on Mar. 28, ISP District 16 trooper Brooke Jones Story was killed in Stephenson County when a semi truck lost control and hit her during the inspection of a different semi.
Both killed by people failing to perform a simple task, moving over.
A message that is starting to gain momentum in Illinois thanks, in part to Lucy Kuelper.
Kuelper is a 12 year old from Rio, Illinois who started a movement known as the Move Over Project.
“My goal is to spread more awareness through this project and to save as many lives as possible,” said Kuelper.
It began with Lucy asking her parents how she could help.
She decided to post a picture of Facebook, asking for people to “move over” for her dad, an Illinois State Trooper.
“My mom and me came up with this idea and so at 5 o’clock on a Friday evening, we took the picture and it kind of just blew up.”
Blew up is an understatement.
The post hit over 10,000 likes by the time Lucy went to bed that night.
“That evening at 10 o’clock, I was ready to go upstairs . . . and my mom said “Lucy, come downstairs and look at this and so I went downstairs and looked at it and I was like WHOA and I was freaking out. I didn’t think it would be this big and I thought it would be just a local thing with District 7.”
Lucy was very wrong.
The Move Over Project is stretching far beyond the boundaries of East Moline.
Hundreds of pictures have been sent to the Move Over Project’s page from all over Illinois, including here in the stateline.
“This little girl is bringing so much awareness to the state and the country to just move over,” said Belvidere Police officer Michelle Schwartz.
Michelle and her husband are both police officers and have been married for nine months.
After hearing about the Move Over Project, they immediately posted a wedding photo they took in the parking lot of the Belvidere-Boone County Public Safety Building.
They wanted to show their bond goes further than that of an officer.
“We all have someone we want to go home to and that’s what we’re trying to prove to people,” said Michelle Schwartz.
“If it affects or reaches one person on a daily basis, and Facebook is a huge thing and a lot of people look at it,when it touches home, it makes a difference,” said Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Schwartz.
Several departments in our area have show support for Lucy’s cause, including a message sent from the family of Brooke Jones Story.
“We got a message from Brooke Jones’ family and I though that one was very special because she was one of the victims and I thought it would be very nice to reply back,” said Kuelper.
It’s a connection felt from her own family that bleeds blue for her dad.
“I hope that everyday he’s safe and he comes home and he’s not hurt or anything. I think he’s just very proud of everything I’ve done so far.”
All of this work is being done so Lucy can make her message as clear as possible.
“I think that it’s very important that you’re not on your cell phones and you actually pay attention to the roads and how you’re driving.”
Lucy hopes to expand the Move Over Project to Instagram and Twitter to continue to spread her message.
Until then, you can search “Move Over Project” on Facebook to leave a picture or a message for the cause.