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Fallen Heroes in Kentucky Honored During Christmas as Collaboration Between Two Women Spans the Miles Between PA and KY

Pawlowski Ponder and mother

L to R: Philadelphia Police Officer John Pawlowski / Brenda Tiffany and her son Trooper Cameron Ponder at KSP graduation.

FRANKFORT, KY – In a poignant display of solidarity and remembrance, two women separated by state lines are joining forces for the fifth consecutive year to ensure the sacrifices of fallen Kentucky State Police officers are never forgotten. This heartwarming collaboration spans the miles between Pennsylvania and Kentucky, where a sister-in-law and a mother who lost their officers in the line of duty join forces to bring Christmas wreaths to the gravesites of KSP's 37 fallen officers.

The Fallen Heroes Wreath Program, initiated by the family of Philadelphia Police Officer John Pawlowski, who lost his life on Feb. 13, 2009, when responding to a domestic dispute, serves as the driving force behind the initiative. Inspired by the national "Wreaths Across America" program, which honors military personnel with wreaths on gravesites, the Pawlowski family crafted a similar program to pay tribute to law enforcement officers during the Christmas season. This year the program is placing over 1,800 Christmas wreaths across the country.

"This program is a way for us to show our gratitude and respect for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day," said Fallen Heroes Wreath Program founder Michelle Pawlowski. "It started as a family initiative, and to see it grow is truly heartwarming." 

Over 1,800 Christmas wreaths to be placed at gravesites

Cameron Ponder KSP gravesite

KSP Troopers placing Christmas wreaths on gravesites of fallen officers.

Several years ago, Michelle Pawlowski shared the program in a Facebook group for fallen families, catching the attention of Brenda Tiffany, the mother of fallen KSP Trooper Cameron Ponder. United by their shared mission, Pawlowski and Tiffany collaborated to ensure every KSP fallen officer's gravesite is adorned with a Christmas wreath.

"We all feel the heaviness of our loss, and there is no denying holidays are different, but they are still filled with the greatest gift of all – love," said Tiffany. "The Fallen Hero Wreath program provides a way for us to show our love, honor our heroes and remember. I am so blessed to partner with this organization. From my family to yours, I pray you feel our love. We will never forget the fallen."

On Sept. 13, 2015, Trooper Ponder was fatally shot while conducting a routine traffic stop on Interstate Highway 24 in Lyon County. He is one of 37 KSP officers who have died in the line of duty since 1948.

Phillip Burnett Jr 150

"The Fallen Heroes Wreath Program demonstrates the strength of community and the lasting spirit of those who dedicate their lives to public service," said KSP Commissioner Phillip Burnett, Jr. "Some of our officers no longer have family members remaining, and this is a wonderful way for us to stand in the gap for them."

To learn more about the Fallen Heroes Wreath Program or contribute to the cause, visit their website. The online fallen trooper and officer memorial can be found on the KSP website.

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