A legacy of love

Last week, for Jacob’s 38th birthday, Patty Wetterling wrote a moving and emotional message to her son, promising him that she would never stop looking for him. The story was originally posted by the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, and then quickly picked up by a host of other local and national media outlets.

I was happy to see that People Magazine even picked up the story. They were one of the first national magazines to cover Jacob’s abduction, and they’ve run several articles in the years since.

It was a good story. The reporter called to interview Patty personally, so there were additional details to run alongside the birthday letter. All good… except for one thing. There was one sentence that made me stop in my tracks and say… um, no. The average passerby probably wouldn’t have caught it. But I did.

In the article, it states, “Wetterling, who served on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s board of directors for three years, says she will never stop searching for her son.”

The thing is… Patty Wetterling has served on the Board of Directors for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for the past TWENTY TWO years… not three. She was the first family victim to be appointed to the NCMEC board in 1993, and recently served as Board Chair from 2012-2015. She continues to serve as immediate Past Chair, traveling back and forth to Washington, D.C. on a regular basis.

NCMEC_plaque_2015When Patty’s term as Board Chair ended this past December, NCMEC presented her with a beautiful framed print in honor of her service to the Board. The number “11,654” sits boldly atop the images of 11,654 children who were recovered during Patty’s leadership at NCMEC from 2012-2015. The bronze plaque reads, “In grateful recognition and appreciation for your exceptional leadership and tenacious dedication to the protection of our children.”

What a legacy. And it doesn’t end there.

It actually started twenty six years ago, on February 17, 1990 — Jacob’s 12th birthday. That’s the day Jerry and Patty Wetterling founded the “Jacob Wetterling Foundation” (now the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center). In the agonizing months following Jacob’s abduction, Patty discovered a voice and a strength she never knew she had. She began speaking at schools, churches, and community groups, spreading her message of prevention, education, and hope. She has since gone on to become one of the nation’s leading advocates for missing and exploited children.

Because of Patty Wetterling’s efforts, Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Act of 1994 which required states to implement a sex offender and crimes against children registry. She co-founded Team HOPE in 1998, a parent-to-parent mentoring and support group for families of other missing children. She co-authored a book, “When Your Child is Missing: A Family Survival Guide,” along with four other families. She has been honored as one of KARE-11 TV’s “Eleven Who Care” and was selected by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as one of the “100 Most Influential Minnesotans of the Century.” Most recently, she served as Director of Sexual Violence Prevention for the Minnesota Department of Health, retiring in May of 2015. She continues to make national speaking appearances, and serves as a consultant at child abuse conferences and law enforcement trainings.

Through it all, her focus has been to find Jacob. Until that day, she will continue searching. And hoping.


NEXT: Thank you MNCASA…


  1. Dr. Darcy Jenkns-Holick |

    Good catch! Patty, we all continue to hope and pray for Jacob’s return!🙏🏻

  2. I think the answers to Jacobs abduction are coming soon after Danny Heinrich is convicted. I think the answers will come from his confession but I could be wrong. Take care.

  3. It is all very interesting.

  4. Janet Strandlie |

    Your correction needs to go to the media, Joy!! To People magazine and all the others who care enough to publish the GOOD news of accomplishments like those you indicate that Patty has accumulated in her tireless search.

  5. i am very upset danny heinrich pleaded not guilty to the counts of child pornography. dateline should run a special on the wetterlings to light a fire under him.

  6. Thank you for posting all of the work Patty has done to help missing and exploited children. Since 1989 there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t think of and pray for Jacob and his family. I am so glad I stumbled across your blog. Thank you!

  7. I strongly agree with anonymous!! I feel the answer is so close!

  8. Great catch Joy!! I am so amazed by all everyone is doing to help bring Jacob home!!

Leave a Reply