What started out as a seed of an idea has blossomed into a successful annual event that is an entire family affair. Payton (14) and Dakota (8), daughters of Joachim-Plattin Ambulance District Paramedic Jonathan Noce, EOW 5/25/16, presented their Second Annual Pumpkin Patch Selling Day benefiting BackStoppers this October with the help of their uncle, Caleb Noce, and their passionate community of first responder supporters.
This journey begins with the pumpkin patch itself, which has been kept by the Noce family since 1902. Caleb provides some insight on the background of the pumpkins, “We grow the pumpkins on Payton’s and Dakota’s great grandparents’ farm. In 2019 the Mississippi River flooded from March to July, so we were flooded where we wanted to plant the pumpkins. We planted really late, but it worked out and we had a lot of blooms, but only a few pumpkins due to frost.” Now, in order for the pumpkins to be ready for the October event, the Noce family begins planting from May to June.
With the pumpkins in place, all that remained was the idea of using the pumpkins for a good cause. “I had been with the BackStoppers of Jefferson County group, and I was trying to come up with an idea that would include Payton and Dakota and get them involved with BackStoppers. They were so young when their dad passed away and BackStoppers will be a part of their lives for a long time. I was driving one day and started thinking about the pumpkin patch and it went off like a light bulb, ‘Payton’s and Dakota’s Pumpkin Patch’. I talked to my dad, and he agreed so we talked to Payton’s and Dakota’s great grandparents, huge supporters of BackStoppers, and they loved the idea.”
Overcoming the challenges of their first event in 2020 was not an easy task, but the pumpkins were ready to be sold. Through social media and word of mouth, Payton and Dakota were able to round up the pumpkins on weekends and meet the needs of their many customers. The pumpkin sales raised $1,500. These proceeds plus a matching donation from the Festus Crystal City Elks Club 1721 and other generous donations brought the total over $3,000!
With a goal of $5,000 for this year’s event, Payton and Dakota ramped up everything that made their first event successful. The event was held at Reuther Ford, and they used their own event social media pages to promote the day. They even had promotion from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and a radio spot on KTJJ “The Boot”. The community came in droves to get their pumpkins and support Payton’s and Dakota’s efforts. After generous donations and a matching donation from the Festus Crystal City Elks Club 1721, the final total came out to over $6,360.
It is always moving to see young people such as Payton and Dakota take it upon themselves to make a difference. We are grateful for them and the entire Noce family for their hearts and dedication to our mission.
You can check out Payton and Dakota’s Facebook page for all the coverage of 2021 event here.
“Our family can’t thank BackStoppers enough for what they have provided to not only our family, but the families of all fallen first responders. The BackStoppers has been by our side since the day Jonathan died. They have been our guardian angel.” – Caleb Noce
“Hey, this is Payton Noce and I just wanted to say how grateful I am for BackStoppers. Since the day my dad died, they have stepped in physically and emotionally. They have helped keep my family upright. With BackStoppers’ help I hope to continue my education and become involved in a career that would help give back to the community the way BackStoppers has helped me and my family.” – Payton Noce
“Having the pumpkin patch is fun and giving back to BackStoppers makes me feel good. I’m happy Uncle Caleb started the pumpkin patch.” – Dakota Noce