Community Center Boulevard also will carry name of Stephanie Wilking

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 27, 2006



LAPLACE – The St. John Parish Council on Tuesday night voted to name a LaPlace street in honor of a local young teenager who did extraordinary things during her life here.

The council voted to name Community Center Boulevard &#8220Stephanie Wilking Drive” in honor of the LaPlace teen who began a local program, which eventually went national, to help police officers have bulletproof vests.

Wilking died several years ago from spinal meningitis, but went all the way to Washington with her program &#8220Kids for Cops,” which has now gotten a national following and is being revived by her younger sister Ashley Wilking.

Stephanie Wilking was barely a teenager when she lived in LaPlace, and a St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy was killed in the line of duty. He did not have a bulletproof vest since the department did not have enough money to provide them for their officers.

When Wilking saw the story, she took $100 of her own money and went to the Sheriff’s Office, offering it to help buy a vest. From there, the young lady began a campaign of her own that raised tens of thousands of dollars,

and helped outfit the entire St. John department.

Tragically, she later died from spinal meningitis, but is remembered to this day for her work.

Now, her younger sister Ashley Wilking has taken up the banner to revive the &#8220Kids for Kops” program.

&#8220It really means so much to my family that Stephanie has been remembered this way for what she did,” Ashley said. &#8220It’s a real honor and privilege for me, just to continue what she did. I hope I can always keep her dream alive.”

It was approximately a year ago that St. John Sheriff Wayne Jones, Parish President Nickie Monica and Councilman Steve Lee offered a proposal to the Parish Council to have a street named in her honor.

Lee told L’Observateur that shortly after the new St. John Community Center was finished a few months ago, the trio agreed that the street leading into the center would be perfect for Stephanie’s name.

The official name of the street is still Community Center Boulevard, but Wilking’s name will now be put on the street sign above the original name.

&#8220Stephanie was a very special young lady, and what she did for our community was extraordinary,” Lee said. &#8220We wanted to find the right place for her name, and we felt like the high visibility of the Community Center would be the perfect place.”

The vote to put Wilking’s name on the Community Center Boulevard signs was unanimously approved by the council.