WEST SALEM, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The 6th annual day at the lake was held today in West Salem to give children meaningful interactions with law enforcement officers.
The organization behind the event honors a West Salem woman whose life was taken too early in 2012.
First News at Nine’s Leeann Stapleton explains more of the story behind today’s gathering.
Sara’s mother, Sherry Hougom is the president of the foundation. She says the purpose of day at the lake is to give children an an opportunity to spend time with law enforcement officers.
“We came up with a fishing adventure with a child and police officer just to give these kids an opportunity they normally wouldn’t have,” Hougom said.
Children had the opportunity to go out on Neshonoc Lake and fish one-on-one with law enforcement officers.
“This year we have 27 law enforcement officers,” Hougom said. “We have DNR wardens, they supplied the life jackets and fishing poles and we have the U.S. fish and wildlife. They provided the boats.”
There was food, activities and games like a sawdust pile where the children could search for money. There was face painting and a human version of hungry hungry hippos.
Hogum says the foundation and the all law enforcement present share a common goal.
“They are here because they love kids, they want to help their community and we also have the same mission. A brighter safer future,” Hougom said.
The Sara Rose Hougom Foundation promotes violence awareness and prevention, as well as encouraging the importance of making positive choices.
Scott Hogan was Sara’s boyfriend. He and his fraternity, UW-La Crosse Chi Fi, helped get the foundation up and running. It started out as Hogan and his fraternity holding a softball game fundraiser for Sara and it transformed from there.
“Then the Sara Hougum foundation started this big day at the lake and continued to have these wonderful things that brings the community together,” Hogan said.
Hogan has since moved to Minnesota, but is a board member of the foundation. He says he is happy to see day at the lake still going.
“To see all this is very special o me and this is always touching to come back here,” Hogan said. “Everything going on with the kids flourishing and it’s just quite amazing to still be a part of it and making a difference.”
Hougom wants the day at the lake to be a positive influence on the youth.
“I think any time you can give our youth difference avenues of making goof choices and I want the kids to see the officers,” Hougom said. “When they see an officer or a squad car, I want them to have the memory of I remember the day at the lake.”
Hougom says the foundation and the event embody Sara’s lifestyle. To bring out the best in others.
“A lifestyle that Sara lives and we want to continue to inspire others,” Hougom said.
To learn more about the Sara Rose Hougom Foundation, click here.