MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It has been an emotional week for Minnesotans who have followed Jacob Wetterling’s disappearance.
The 27-year-old mystery came to an end last Friday, when authorities recovered his remains from a farm in Paynesville.
Danny Heinrich confessed to the crime earlier this week. He admitted Tuesday to kidnapping and killing the 11-year-old boy in St. Joseph on October 22, 1989.
That confession brought grief and sadness across the state, but also the desire to show support for the Wetterling family.
A youth soccer team approached the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center Wednesday, asking to wear Jacob’s old jersey number.
That request prompted the “11ForJacob movement,” symbolizing 11 traits of kindness and compassion:
1. Be Fair
2. Be Kind
3. Be Understanding
4. Be Honest
5. Be Thankful
6. Be a Good Sport
7. Be a Good Friend
8. Be Joyful
9. Be Generous
10. Be Gentle with others
11. Be Positive
The Minnesota Gophers brought in 35,000 “11forJacob” stickers outside TCF Bank stadium to give to fans during Saturday’s football game.
“I love that little boy and I always said, ‘I sure hope I know what happened to Jacob,'” said Bev Lippka, who wore a sticker.
“11forJacob” reaches well beyond the walls of TCF Bank Stadium to all corners of the state. Youth teams across Minnesota are united in their effort to add to their uniforms, and sending pictures into the JWRC.
“It represents a healing process for all the people in the state of Minnesota, but especially the family themselves,” said Gopher fan Richard Johnson. “Everybody cares about them and wants to support them.”
Some teams are adding the number 11 stickers to their uniforms, while others are even writing the number on their arms or jerseys.
“I’ve lived here all my life and that’s just the way Minnesota people are,” Johnson said.
It is a show of support for the Wetterling family, who never gave up hope. And it serves as inspiration in the difficult days ahead.
“It’s an honor to do this for Jacob for him and his family,” said Chris Howell, who was handing out stickers.
After a week where it would be easy to dwell on Jacob’s death, a simple sticker is a reminder to celebrate his life.
“I want everyone to know that he was in all of our Minnesota hearts,” said Gopher fan Patti Richardson.
The Minnesota Twins wore special jerseys with the number 11 at Friday’s game.
The Minnesota Vikings are also planning on honoring the Wetterling family at their first home game against the Green Bay Packers.