|Messenger photos by Dianne Garrett|
|Ethan Collins was a Fairfield County Sheriff Deputy whose End of Watch (EOW) was January 4, 2006. The department honored the deputy by giving rides to children who attended Get Behind The Badge on August 24 at John Bishop Park in Whitehall. Jake was Collins’ mounted patrol horse. Pictured atop Jake is Beechwood Elementary student, Trevor Jensen, 7.|
|Savannah Walker, 4, proudly displays her badge at Get Behind The Badge on August 24 in John Bishop Park in Whitehall. She is the daughter of Whitehall Auxiliary Officer James "Tank" Walker. The girl sometimes says that she wants to be a police officer like her dad when she grows up, but that day she was leaning towards rock star.|
The annual Get Behind The Badge event on Aug. 25 was full of surprises for attendees, including a storm from Mother Nature.
But even the unexpected storm couldn’t dampen the spirits as the event welcomed its first corporate sponsor.
John Bishop Park was the setting for the seventh event that raises money for police and firefighters injured on the job, and for the families of those killed in the line of duty.
In 2001 Whitehall Officer Terry McDowell and Columbus Officer Chris Claypool were killed in the line of duty. Columbus Officer Kenneth McPeek and Whitehall Officer Eric Brill were both seriously injured, Brill in the same incident on Aug. 24 that took the life of McDowell.
That year community members, businesses, and police officers and their agencies organized an event to benefit the four families.
The next year, Angie McDowell, Eric and Melody Brill and Whitehall Officer Spencer Salyers established Get Behind The Badge as a non-profit organization to financially assist any officer or firefighter injured in the line of duty, and the families of those killed.
During opening ceremonies this year, Angie McDowell announced that M/I Homes has become their first corporate sponsor.
GBTB recognized M/I representatives Nikki Dinardo and Alexandria Gleim with special awards. The idea came from Dinardo whose husband is a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy.
"I wanted to be involved, and help GBTB, and was able to get my employer on board," Dinardo explained.
M/I will donate $1,000 to GBTB for every police officer or firefighter who purchases a new M/I home. Also, police officers and firefighters will receive a one percent discount off the purchase price.
One home has already been sold to benefit the organization. McDowell noted that with corporate sponsors, her organization may one day not have to sponsor so may fundraising events.
She would like to concentrate on taking GBTB statewide.
McDowell also was approached by the Genoa Township Police Department earlier this year to tell her they were sponsoring a car show, and decided it would benefit GBTB.
"I never dreamed we would receive $2,235," said McDowell.
Melody Brill presented other awards to Lori Carver and Lori Click for their volunteer efforts. This year was the group’s first attempt at a car show, which was won by Bob Hankinson.
The event had one band scheduled, but others jumped on board at the last minute. Other activities included K-9 demonstrations, helicopters, horse rides, bouncies for the kids, a cruiser competition and food.