LAKELAND, Fla. - Sandy Kocab was able to utter these words without crying: "I lost my son in June of last year. He was taken down by a bad guy with a gun."
She shared the story of her son, Jeff Kocab, with the youngest of audiences, elementary students.
Her message is simple but powerful.
"We have to respect them. That is what it is all about. Respecting our officers," she said.
Jeff Kocab was shot and killed during a traffic stop gone horribly wrong.
Tampa officer David Curtis also was also killed that night by a suspect who opened fire.
"I don't want to go back on the loss of my son or his zone partner. That is what God is telling me to do. To move forward so we are bringing about the positive," she said.
Kocab hopes by reaching out to the most impressionable, she can save a life.
"That is where it's going to start with, young children," she said.
Lakeland officers and Polk County Deputies agree. It's why they invited Kocab to come and speak to the students at Cleveland Court Elementary.
"Everything begins with our children whether it be good or bad," Lakeland officer Adrian Rodriguez said.
Sergeant Jon Burchman of the Polk County Sheriffs Office agrees.
"She does not want us to wait until we put the black tape on our badge for us to appreciate what law enforcement does every day," he said.
Kocab joined forces with the agencies. The goal was to help the children understand what police officers and deputies do, what they are risking for the community.
"Don't you think I want to go home and see my kids again?" Rodriguez asked the children.
The children answered with a resounding yes. They also took in all the items law enforcement brought in, from a canine partner to bullet proof vests.
At the end of the presentatation, the children showed they cared. At Kocab's urging, they gave the officers a standing ovation.
And then these youngsters went one step further. They showed this mother they understood. All of them lined up to give her a hug.
The touching gesture by the children, brought tears. But this time, there was some happiness mixed in. Kocab said she feels her son smiling.
"Somebody told me he is sitting on my shoulder as an angel, 'Go mom, I am proud of you.'"
Kocab and her daughter Stephanie, Jeff's sister, have also established a non-profit foundation called T.E.A.R.S.
It's purpose it to help parents and siblings of of slain officers to attend the National Police Memorial in May.
For information on the golf fundraiser scheduled for May 30, 2011 and more, go to tearsfoundation.com