'It's all about her tonight,' says mom as welcome home held for abducted Alexandria teen
ALEXANDRIA, Minn.—While Jasmine Block mingled with the large number of community members that gathered to welcome her home the evening of Friday, Sept. 8, her full attention was on one creature the entire time: her new eight-week-old labradoodle puppy, Rocky, who was gathered into a bundle in the 15-year-old's arms.
Jasmine, who was abducted Aug. 8 and escaped Sept. 5, was given the dog by a donor. Rocky will eventually be trained to be a service dog to bring Jasmine comfort in the aftermath of what she went through.
"The dog pretty much picked her out," said Sarah Block, Jasmine's mother. "There were two of them and she was going to pick the one that was more calm. He went right to her. He has followed her around since she got him and is right by her side no matter where she goes."
Friday's gathering was initially planned when Jasmine was still missing and was to be a prayer service. However, when Jasmine escaped her captors, the event instead changed to a celebration.
"She (Jasmine) was a little bit nervous because we didn't know how many people were going to be here," Sarah said. "She told me she wasn't going to talk and I don't blame her one bit. I'm not trying to get her to talk at all."
"It's very emotional, seeing everybody come together to support Jaz, to know that she is a hero in this community and all over," Sarah said. "She can see a sense of how many people care about her, how many people love her and did not give up on her. She's the reason why everybody came together. It's all about her tonight."
Prior to her disappearance, Jasmine was part of a youth group run by Kevin Taylor. Taylor was very active in searching for Jasmine and giving support to the Block family. Taylor was at the hospital when Jasmine was reunited with her family and says it's something he won't ever forget.
"That was probably the highlight of my ministry career," he said.
Though Jasmine was in good spirits Friday night, her mother says there have been many difficult instances in the three days since her escape.
"She does have a lot of bad moments," Sarah said. "During those times she will talk to me or her sisters or any family. We are there 200 percent, no matter what she needs. This isn't something that is going to be fixed overnight. It's going to be years."
Taylor and Sarah both credit the Douglas County community for coming together in a time of need.
"It's pretty awesome," Taylor said. "It's something that you'd like to see more of, and not just in times of trouble. It's important to see the community come around each other and pick one another up when they see that there's somebody in need, help them out."
Sarah agrees, crediting local officials as well as community members.
"I cannot express how thankful I am to the law enforcement, firefighters, friends, family, strangers — they have all been there for us throughout this whole thing and they're still there for us," she said. "I couldn't ask for a better community."