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Project 316 gives hand to injured first responders, supports scholarships

Project 316 in Burnet

The Project 316 fundraiser, which includes a 5K and a concert, is Saturday, Oct. 2. The run/walk starts at 8 a.m. at R.J. Richey Elementary School in Burnet. Live music begins at 5 p.m. at Haley-Nelson Park. Courtesy photo

Burnet Police Officer Jose Meza went into law enforcement for one primary reason.

“Jose had a big heart,” said his wife, Christina Meza. “One of the biggest things about Jose is he had this desire to serve. His biggest calling was to be a public servant.”

Jose Meza, badge No. 316, passed away on Dec. 20, 2019, after wrapping up training with his K9 partner, Kuso. 

In a way of celebrating Meza’s life and continuing his legacy of service, Christina created Project 316 to raise money for first responders who become injured or sick, even if it isn’t duty related. It also supports families of first responders who have died, again either in the line of duty or due to other causes, and scholarships for youths pursuing a career in police, fire, or EMS.

Burnet K9 Kuso
Kuso, the Burnet Police Department K9, relaxes during last year’s Project 316 event, which takes its name from the badge number of his late handler, Jose Meza. Courtesy photo

Project 316’s annual fundraiser is Saturday, Oct. 2. It features two main events: the Project 316 5K starting at 8 a.m. at R.J. Richey Elementary, 500 E. Graves St. in Burnet; and a concert and live auction from 5-9:30 p.m. at Haley-Nelson Park, 101 Garden Trails Drive in Burnet.

The 5K has a $30 fee in advance and a $45 fee the day of the run/walk. Preregistration is available online

“We’ll start warming up at 7:30 (a.m.), and then at 8 (a.m.), we’ll start the run,” Meza said.

The event resumes at 5 p.m. the same day at Haley-Nelson Park with the musical lineup of Chase Glover at 5 p.m., Zach Willard Band at 6:30 p.m., and Tyler Bigley Band at 8 p.m.

Les Hartman will serve as the master of ceremonies. 

Admission to the concert is free, but a cooler fee is $10.

Meza and organizers also put together a number of silent auction items on which people can bid throughout the evening. Prize giveaways are an AR-15 rifle and a custom-made propane grill. Organizers are only selling 200 tickets at $20 a piece for each item. Purchase tickets at the event or from one of the organizers by emailing project316corp@gmail.com

Since its inception, Project 316 has disbursed more than $3,500 to first responders and/or their families. 

Meza said she also wants to help young people who are pursuing a career in one of the first responder careers with scholarships. 

“I don’t think people realize how expensive the police academy, EMS training, or fire school is,” she said. “If we can help them out, those interested in going into one of those careers, we want to do that.”

Meza believes that, through Project 316, her husband’s mission of helping and serving others continues. 

“This is the community he picked, the community he chose to serve,” she said. “He was put on this earth to serve, and with (Project 316), he still does.”

For more information or to support Project 316 with donations, visit its Facebook page or email organizers at project316corp@gmail.com.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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