Small Town Strong: Games People Play donates shirts for Jayme Closs benefit

Published 10:08 am Saturday, May 4, 2019

An Austin business made a meaningful gesture to the family of a Wisconsin teen who was kidnapped and escaped from her kidnapper.

The case of Jayme Closs made national headlines as the 13-year-old teen from Barron, Wisconsin, was kidnapped and missing for 88 days. Her parents, James and Denise Closs, were found murdered in the family’s home. Four months ago, Jayme re-appeared from the woods near Gordon, Wisconsin, after escaping from Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, who pleaded guilty in March to kidnapping Closs and murdering her parents.

Since her experience, Closs has been living with her aunt and uncle, Bob and Jennifer Smith, while she is in the process of healing and grieving, according to news reports.

T-shirts feature logos supporting Jayme Closs’s were printed at Games People Play. Eric Johnson/

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Games People Play previously worked with the Jennie O. Turkey factory in Barron, where Closs’ parents were employees. At the time, Games People Play owner Lance Pogones said he had reached out to the contacts he had out there about donating shirts in the future for an event if they needed them.

“After she was back, they said they needed shirts for this weekend,” Pogones said. “They wondered if we’d donate them for the event. They’ve been a really good long-time customer of ours, and still is.”

Shipped out on Monday, Games People Play donated 200 t-shirts for the “Celebration of Jayme’s Return & Benefit for Bob and Jennifer Smith” event that’s taking place today in Barron. The proceeds will go to help Closs’ aunt and uncle with expenses to help rebuild their niece’s life and help her heal from her experience.

Pogones received a design from Chris Kroeze in Barron for a black t-shirt that reads “Small Town Strong,” featuring a baseball diamond with an outline of Wisconsin and a blue heart over where Barron would be found on the map. There was also another t-shirt with a maroon background and a white outline of Wisconsin with the hashtag “Small Town Strong,” as well as a sketched blue heart over Barron.

Although it was a small gesture, Pogones was happy to assist another community that’s looking to help one of its own move forward.

“We’re lucky to be able to help in a small way,” he added.