When Lehi resident Jennifer Russell heard the story of long-time friend Juliann Ashcraft losing her husband Andrew in the June 30 Yarnell, Ariz., wildfire, she knew she wanted to do something to help.
Russell, who had grown up in Prescott, Ariz., knew most of the firefighters who lost their lives that fateful day — and she knew the families that were left behind.
“I can't imagine what Juliann's been going through,” Russell said. “There has to be something more we can do.”
From there sprung the idea of a white bracelet with two words on it: “Be Good.”
This white band with its uplifting words, however, is more than just a message. It represents a memory the Ashcraft family said they hold dearly.
After the death of her husband, one of the few things returned to Ashcraft was a white rubber bracelet, singed and yellowed from the fire.
Several months earlier, the Ashcraft family had committed to living good lives, striving to be better so they could be together forever and wearing the bracelets, which they called “be better” bracelets, as a reminder. A Deseret News story originally referred to them as “be good” bracelets, and Juliann said that finding the bracelet was a “tender mercy.”
Due in part to the positive response that has stemmed from Ashcraft's story, Russell decided to replicate the idea of the bracelet, with all of the proceeds being donated to the Ashcraft family.
“My biggest concern was to make sure her story was heard,” Russell said. “After the media has died down, they are still left picking up the pieces. We didn't want Andrew's legacy to be done there.”
With the word of approval from the Ashcraft family, Russell went ahead with her idea, designing a simple white rubber bracelet with “Be Good” inscribed on one side and “Yarnell 19″ on the other.
Russell said she has been surprised by the online sales of the bracelets. So far, she has sold nearly 1,500, sending them to places all over the country.
“(Juliann) is so strong and is such a beacon for everyone to look toward,” Russell said. “So many have been touched by her story.”
Donations are also accepted on the website, with all proceeds going to the Ashcraft family.
“It's beyond the actual bracelets; it's the story and the meaning behind it,” Russell said. “We wear ours every day. It's really inspired me.”
Juliann Ashcraft is also planning to create bracelets with the words “Be Better” printed on them to preserve her husband's legacy, according to Russell.
Emmilie Buchanan-Whitlock is an intern for the Deseret News with Mormon Times. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Contact her by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: emmiliewhitlock