WESTMINSTER, Colo. — When 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway vanished, the whole state of Colorado felt like they had lost a member of their own family.
Her loss, inspired a group of 10 friends to start the Colorado Missing Children’s Foundation. The foundation used Jessica’s image to raise money.
According to a report from KDVR FOX 31 in Denver, the foundation’s spokesperson, Melissa Harding, says they raised money, some of which went to the family.
“We raised nearly $6,000. We gave the family over $2,800,” Harding said.
The foundation claims when the money stopped coming, the family got a lawyer.
Wednesday, only FOX31 Denver cameras were there when the Ridgeway family served the foundation with a cease and desist letter.
According to the letter, Jessica’s name is used repeatedly by the foundation both on their website and on a Facebook event for a fundraiser called the Purple Ribbon Tattoo Event scheduled for Saturday.
“Your organization has ‘Remember Jessica’ prominently displayed on the advertisements for this Purple Ribbon Tattoo Event fundraiser and you are selling ‘Justice for Jessica’ bracelets, and ‘Jessica Ridgeway’ window decals for purchase,” the letter said.
“The family has tried to address this issue with you informally by repeatedly asking you to stop using Jessica’s name as a fundraising tool for your organization,” it continues. “You have not respected the family’s wishes and are continuing to make money off of Jessica’s name.”
The foundation allowed FOX31 Denver reporter Justin Joseph to listen to a voice mail from Jessica Ridgeway’s sister which it says shows the foundation had a good relationship with the Ridgeway family.
“Hi, this is Rebecca Ridgeway. I’m sorry for (the disagreement). I believe you’ve helped raise awareness for the world and I’m truly grateful for that.”
When Fox 31 Denver reached Ridgeway, she felt differently.
”They’re liars,” Ridgeway said. “Tell the public this is not about the money. This is about the fact Jessica’s name and image is not theirs to use.”
The foundation says it will comply after the next event which is scheduled this weekend.