The family of fallen U.S. Forest Service officer Jason Crisp received a heartwarming surprise in June from a woman many states away.
On June 29, artist Loreen Pantaleone, founder of the K9 Hero Portrait Project, drove from northern Pennsylvania to present a hand-painted, 2-by-2-foot portrait of USFS K9 Maros, who was tragically killed along side Crisp back in March during a manhunt in Burke County.
“I worked with U.S. Forest Service Officer Kim Kipp who nominated K9 Maros for a portrait through the program shortly after Crisp’s and Maros’ memorial,” Pantaleone said, “The family was unaware of the portrait and we were able to successfully surprise the Crisp family during morning services at the West Court Street Baptist Church in Marion. It was a beautiful presentation and the church did a phenomenal job for recognizing all the service men and women.”
Members from the Marion Police Department, the McDowell Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Forest Service, other local law enforcement, family and friends were present during the portrait revealing to support Crisp’s wife, Amanda and her two sons.
“Amanda loved it and hugged me several times and said it was absolutely beautiful and thanked me,” told Pantaleone, “I wanted them to feel like Maros is looking over them.”
Pantaleone said the portrait took her about 128 hours to complete over the course of several weeks. She says she tries to get very involved in her portraits to make sure she captures the bond between the families and the K9s.
“The support says so much to me about who he was and how much the community appreciated him and loved him,” she said, “When you see the response from the family to the dogs and in this case with Maros, I just know I’m doing the right thing, and it’s an incredible feeling knowing that you’ve helped a little bit.”
The K9 Hero Portrait Project paints and donates portraits of K9 heroes for soldiers, handlers and law enforcement families. Along with portraits and prints, Maros’ image from the painting will be minted on a collectible coin with 50-percent of the proceeds going to the Crisp family.
“Not only will they be helping the Crisp family, but any future law enforcement officers or military,” she said.