Jason Jolkowski was born June 24, 1981. His beginnings were rough, with a childbirth dangerous to his mom, Kelly, who required surgery, and to Jason, who was taken to another hospital for intensive neo-natal care.
“It was five days before they allowed me to go and see Jason in the other hospital,” recalls Kelly. “I slowly made my way to him. He was lying in the incubator with several tubes extending from him for the antibiotics and liquids. His eyes were closed, but I could still see that he was beautiful. They did not allow me to hold him. I could only try to stroke his little body with my hands. I wondered if he could sense that his mother had finally come to see him, and that it was her hands that tried to find a way to let him feel love.”
Jason was an only child until age seven, when his brother, Michael was born. Even though an age difference of seven years can often mean that siblings may not form a close relationship, this was not the case with Jason and Michael. They would often sit close to each other while playing games, with Jason forming a somewhat protective and loving circle around his brother. Visiting friends commented that they’d never seen such a display of love between two brothers.
A Kind and Generous Young Man
By the time Jason was 19, he was a high school graduate, attended college part-time, and supported himself with a job at a local restaurant.
He became a young man who loves his family, and despite his age, preferred to stay home more than most other activities. Despite his shy nature, he reveled in his job as a DJ for the local college station. He loves to walk, is an avid sports fan, and helping others was a regular part of his daily life.
“He never told us these things, but we found out from those who knew Jason that he took it upon himself to help a handicapped boy at school to get from class to class,” says Kelly. “He also sang a rap song in front of the whole school to help a friend get elected to the student council, even though he was shy and quiet. We saw for ourselves how you would literally run to open the door for elderly people, or help someone across the street.”
He also loved to laugh. The last time the family was all together was a Tuesday night. The four – Kelly and Jim Jolkowski and their sons Michael and Jason – had a family night watching TV and spending time together.
“We always joked around, and Jason laughed easily,” says Jason’s father, Jim. “In fact, we had this game to see who could make each other laugh first. Jason was always the first to laugh.”
The next morning would be the last time that Jason was seen. (To read the full account of the day Jason disappeared, go to http://projectjason.org/forums/index.php?topic=131.0).
A Tribute to Jason: Bettering the Lives of Others
Kelly and Jim did not know they could turn for assistance when Jason disappeared. There were many things that, had they known back then, they would have done differently to more quickly and effectively search in the hours and days that followed. They could also have used a sympathetic ear.
After their experience, they determined that where there are other families in such need, they would be there for them. To do so, they founded Project Jason, Assistance for Families of the Missing.
As Kelly wrote to Jason in honor of his birthday in June of 2008:
“We passed a law in your name here in Nebraska, and then we created a nonprofit organization named after you, Project Jason. We’ve helped find other missing people, including a son who was missing for 14 years, and a sister missing for seven. We wish we could find you, but rest assured son, we won’t stop trying.”
She says the family was blessed to have Jason with them for 19 years, and they remain inspired by Jason’s kind and generous spirit. It is because of these things and more, she says, we know he would want us to do the work we do to help other families of missing persons.
“It will be wonderful to be able to affect even more families in your name, Jason. The greatest gift of all would be to have you back in our lives. But if that is not to be, we will continue on with our work with the help and support of the kind people of the world, people just like you.”
Missing since June 13, 2001
from Omaha, NE
Legislation / Campaign for the Missing
What is Campaign for the Missing?
Campaign for the Missing is a grassroots effort to pass legislation in each state that will serve to improve the law enforcement community’s ability to locate and ensure a safe return of missing persons. It will address the national problems of missing persons and the identification of human remains and provide the framework for improving law enforcement’s response. It will also improve the collection of critical information about missing persons, prioritize high-risk missing persons cases, and ensure prompt dissemination of critical information to other law enforcement agencies and the public that can improve the likelihood of a safe return.
The Department of Justice, working with Federal, State, and local law enforcement; coroners and medical examiners; victim advocates; forensic scientists; key policymakers; and family members who have lived through this tragic experience, developed the model to be presented in each state’s legislature.