Cristina Meza walked out of a hospital on Dec. 20, 2019, to catch her breath. Her husband, Burnet Police Officer Jose Meza, had died that day after suffering a heart attack.
She was astonished by what she saw as she stepped through the doors.
“There was an abundance of police officers there,” she recalled. “There were police cars from all over. A lot of them didn’t know my husband, but they were there to show their support for me.”
Later, Cristina shared that moment during a counseling session, and the question that followed was how could she repay that show of support.
The answer was Project 316, the number on Jose Meza’s badge.
“It really has two goals,” Meza said. “The first is to establish a Jose Meza Scholarship for high school students who are interested in pursuing a degree in criminal justice or law enforcement. My goal is to award two scholarships, at least, each year.”
The second goal is to raise money to help families of law enforcement officers who die or are injured, either on or off duty.
A Project 316 fundraiser is Saturday, Oct. 3. It starts at 8 a.m. with a 5K at Shady Grove Elementary School, 111 Shady Grove Road in Burnet.
“Because it was a heart attack that my husband died of, I wanted to push people to a more healthy lifestyle,” Meza said.
People can run, walk, or participate virtually. Registration is $25 via the Athlete Guild’s Project 316 webpage or $30 in person on Oct. 3.
Later that day, from 5-10 p.m. at Haley-Nelson Park, 1624 Buchanan Drive, is the Project 316 Concert and Benefit featuring live music by Eddie Shell and The Not Guilties, Les Hartman, and Dysfunction Junction as well as a silent auction.
“It’s a family-friendly event,” Meza said.
Entrance is free, but there is a $5 cooler fee. Concessions will be available by donation as well as T-shirts and other items.
In all, Project 316 is about the community giving back to the officers who give so much, Meza said.
“This is a time we show up for them and their families,” she added.