Jake Skifstad, founder and president of SHIELD616, was thrilled to hear the news that Von Miller, his teammates and the Broncos organization would donate $200,000 to the nonprofit foundation that provides advanced protective kits for police and firefighters responding to active shooter/mass shooting situations. In a brief Q&A, he discussed why the gift would be so impactful and program extends beyond protective gear for first responders.
What is the mission of SHIELD616?
"The goal of SHIELD616 is twofold: First, we want to equip every first responder with necessary advanced active shooter/mass shooting protective gear. Second, we want to provide a support group to pray, encourage and uplift the first responder and his/her family on a daily basis. SHIELD616 is mindful of limited department budgets. Not only will all the gear be donated but it will be replaced every five years at no cost to any first responder or department. SHIELD616 is unique and was formed with the vision of having local individuals, churches, business and foundations invest in a first responder — not only financially but relationally."
What does it mean to you to have support from Von Miller, his teammates and the Broncos?
"The SHIELD616 team cheers on and roots for our home team throughout the year. With this incredible gift, the Broncos are now rooting for their hometown heroes. It takes the unification of an entire community to not only better protect our first responders with physical armor, but to break down barriers between first responders and the citizens they serve. It's priceless to see complete strangers invest in the safety of first responders, changing their lives and the lives of their families. We are humbled and proud to see that Von Miller, his teammates and the Broncos are utilizing their God-given leadership gifts and influence to not only better protect our protectors but to also help build positive community relations."
How important will these armor kits be in protecting first responders?
"This armor is potentially life-saving. It can't get any more important than that. We also want this gear to embolden our officers. When they run towards gun fire, we want them to have confidence in the gear so there is no hesitation. This gear doesn't make law enforcement any less effective in emergency situations, but it increases the officers' chances of survival. Also, from a spouse's perspective, it doesn't completely take away their fear, but it allows them to sleep a little bit better at night."
What are the benefits of the community and police relationships that can occur after a vest presentation?
"After a vest presentation, first responders are filled with new vigor, passion and confidence to serve their communities. With this upgraded armor, they are more confident and less hesitant to respond to potentially life-threatening situations. Seeing complete strangers invest in their safety changes the lives of our first responders and their families. As a donor or support team for a first responder, there is a new appreciation for the duties they perform on a day-to-day basis. Citizens have the opportunity to interact with the first responders tasked with keeping their communities safe. Citizens literally get to see the hearts behind the badge."
What kind of challenges are first responders in Colorado and around the country facing?
"Colorado's first responders have been hit hard with tragedy and loss this year. First responders across the state and country are facing all-time lows in morale and tremendous physical and emotional stress. The Denver Broncos will get to see firsthand that their donation will encourage a desperately hurting profession. Many first responders watch football as a means to escape the evil they encounter on a day-to-day basis. First responders across the county admire the athletes who compete in such an incredible sport; however, they will be blown away at the renewed support they are receiving from a first-class National Football League franchise."
For more information on SHIELD616, please click here.