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May 28, 2024 |

Jason Bunch: A Legacy of Giving, Protecting and inspiring

Editor’s Note: Sadly, as this story was being written, Jason passed away. He was so excited to share his story of giving. “I hope by sharing that I can inspire others to see what’s possible – recurring giving, legacy giving, and now inspiring others. That’s 3 ways I can help!” Thank you, Jason, for your legacy. You will be missed.

Like so many people, Jason’s story of support begins with friends who touched his heart, and in Jason’s case, at a very young age.

“I’ve been in just one fight my entire life and that was defending a schoolmate with Down syndrome when I was in second grade,” said Jason. “My mom and dad said ‘no fighting, except for a good reason.’ I didn’t get in trouble, so I guess they agreed it was a good reason!”

Jason and his family were also close to the Striegels, including Bill who was supported by Black Hills Works for many years. Even at a young age, Bill made an impression on Jason.

“Bill really enjoyed Special Olympics, especially bowling, and was very proud of his many medals,” said Jason. “As I got older, I realized how special it was that Bill and others had the opportunities that they did, thanks to programs like Black Hills Works and Special Olympics.”

As life progressed for Jason, people with disabilities living their best lives continued to cross his path and touch his heart. 

When he was at the Air Force Academy, the Academy sponsored Special Olympics’ summer games.

“I volunteered to help out and that was kind of a big deal. Volunteering meant I didn’t get leave to go home. It mattered that much to me,” said Jason. “I also helped out at the winter games. I fancied myself a decent skier, but they skied circles around me.”

After graduation, Jason was stationed at Ellsworth Air Force as an active duty airman from 1991 – 1995, and again from 1997 – 1999. He worked the overnight shift supervising the security police and really valued the help that he received from people supported, such as in custodial and food service.

When Bill passed away, Jason was moved to support programs that had helped Bill and others with disabilities. Knowing Bill had been supported by Black Hills Works, he reached out to learn more.

“When I first reached out, I was amazed at how much Black Hills Works had been expanded since my time at Ellsworth,” said Jason. “The Suzie Cappa Art Center, in particular, really caught my interest.”

He arranged for a tour and immediately recognized it “as something really special.”

Jason bought art (Maureen Conley’s art was a particular favorite), and began giving quarterly to help with supplies, excited for the opportunity to support the talent he saw. He also owns paintings by Suzie Cappa artists. He retired since he first started giving, and has continued that generosity.

“I’m happy that I’m able, even in retirement, to continue my gifts and help these amazing artists.”

Retirement also prompted Jason to update his estate plan, to include legacy gifts to Black Hills Works and other organizations that support people with disabilities.  

From that justified fight in second grade and throughout his career, Jason has been a protector, including working as a federal officer and in service to his country.

We’re grateful to you, Jason! You are an inspiration and have made the world a better place through your gifts. Thank you for making the difference you do!

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