Meet our Board of Directors
These individuals volunteer their time to raise money in Kyle’s memory to benefit families of first responders who have been killed or critically injured in the line of duty.
I have been in law enforcement since 2003 when I started with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. I came to know Kyle when he started working with the Sheriff’s Department; we soon began working together on the same squad and formed a friendship. Kyle later mentioned the idea of working for the Illinois State Police. He convinced me that it was a good move to make, which meant I then needed to convince my wife and children. With my family’s support, I joined the ISP in 2008. Kyle came the following year and we were able to work together in District 18 until he was taken from us.
I was asked to join the board for the Kyle Deatherage Memorial and was honored and quickly agreed to help in whatever way I could. What a great way to honor a wonderful friend and coworker!
My name is Jennifer and I am President of the Trooper Kyle Deatherage Memorial. I met Kyle when I was dating my husband, Jeremy. Kyle and Jeremy worked together on the same squad at the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and were also very good friends. As I continued dating Jeremy, we began to hang out more with Kyle and his then-fiancée, Sarah. We did a lot of really memorable, fun things. We had a salsa dancing “group” made of us, Kyle and Sarah, and our friends Chris and Denise. It was really more of an excuse to get together once every couple weeks to eat and visit. The four of us also went to a very cold, but very awesome Aerosmith concert. But probably one of the most fun things we all did together was go to Vegas! We had a lot of really good time together and were all involved in each other’s weddings.
When Kyle was killed, my heart broke for Sarah and the kids. I wanted to do something to help so I, started organizing a 5K. The first one was held in 2013 and proceeds went to the family. As we were organizing this the thought came to mind to start a 501(c)3 in Kyle’s name so we could continue to do the race and help other families that were in such a tragic situation. So, in 2014 we were officially named a non-for-profit and we have helped many families and tried to carry on Kyle’s legacy. Helping the families that are going through such a difficult time is why I am so proud to be a part of this memorial.
I met Kyle in 2004 working at the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, where we spent five years together on B squad. We became close friends from working together and spent a lot of time with one another outside of work. When both of us got married we were groomsmen in each other’s weddings. Together with our wives, Jen and Sarah, we took a couple memorable vacations.
I am a part of the Memorial because it is important to me that we have an annual remembrance in Kyle’s name. It is important for everyone in the community to remember that there are people like Kyle who are dedicated to serving their communities through law enforcement. It is great to see families and friends come together and enjoy an afternoon with each other to celebrate Kyle’s commitment and sacrifice to his community.
My name is Kate McNelly and my husband is an Illinois State Trooper in District 11. He and Kyle were set to transfer to District 11 on the same day. We never had the opportunity to meet Kyle, but after he was killed, we felt compelled to be there for Sarah, Kaylee and Camden. I have worked every 5K, bought every t-shirt available (Sorry, Zach), squeezed hundreds of lemons for Kaylee’s lemonade stand and eaten my weight in Camden’s cookies.
As a law enforcement wife, I have always felt strongly that we have to stick together. Even though unfortunate circumstances brought me to Sarah, I am honored to know her.
I was even more honored when Jen asked me to be on the board of directors. I am proud to honor Kyle, his family, and provide for our law enforcement family.
My name is Zach McNelly. I have worked with the Illinois State Police (ISP) since 2008. The only time I had the opportunity to briefly meet Kyle was during the pre-screening process before the ISP Academy in 2008. I later found out Kyle had an injury which prevented us from being in the same ISP Cadet Class. After recovering from the injury, Kyle joined the ISP with the following Cadet Class in 2009. Kyle’s tragic passing, in November 2012, was the first ISP line of duty death in my career. After Kyle’s passing, my wife, Kate, and I wanted to do anything we could to be of assistance to Sarah, Kaylee, and Camden. Despite starting as strangers, Sarah graciously accepted our love and emotional support. Kate and I truly cherish our relationship with Sarah. Although our friendship started in the darkest of times for Sarah, it has grown tremendously and is a true blessing.
It is an absolute honor to be a part of the Memorial Board. We get the opportunity to help others experiencing tragedy and extreme heartache and we have the privilege of doing so in Kyle’s name. Kyle’s legacy of service to others is able to live on through the Memorial. It is also the job of the Memorial to assure Sarah, Kaylee, Camden, and all of Kyle’s family and friends that he will never be forgotten; not for how he died, but for how he lived.
I met Kyle when he started working at the Sheriff’s Office in 2004. He rode with me for part of his FTO period and after completing it, he was assigned to my patrol squad. We often were assigned the same patrol district. Most of the time we would only have 2-3 guys assigned to a district, so this meant you spent a lot of time with your partners, backing them up, talking and hanging out during the 12 hour shifts. It was during these shifts Kyle and I would often talk about our families and we became close. When I was reassigned to Triad High School as the SRO, Kyle was assigned as my backup when I was out sick and when my youngest daughter was born.
We hated to see Kyle leave Madison County and move on to the State Police but understood why he did. Kyle and I kept in touch and would often play Words with Friends; he was the only one I could beat, and I was the only one he could beat. We would also meet on midnights at the district lines and talk about life and our families.
The day Kyle was tragically taken from us, I remember like it was yesterday. I was at Triad and was called on the radio to find Kenny, Kyle’s brother and teacher at Triad. I knew something was wrong and made a phone call right away and was informed what had happened. My heart stopped and a million things went through my mind. I had lost a friend, but the world lost an amazing father, husband, brother, police officer, and human being. It was an honor to work so close to Kyle during his time with the Sheriff’s Office and to work so close preparing for his funeral at Triad.
Kyle, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of you. I hug my girls extra tight when I see them. I wanted Kyle’s memory to live on forever so everybody could see what a great person he was. I’m truly honored to be part of this great organization. We give back to those families who have lost so much. Miss you Kyle, until we see each other again!