By Vanesa Brashier, email@example.com
The outpouring of support from the community has been overwhelming, according to the organizers of the June 22 fundraiser for Liberty County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Whitten, who was critically injured May 29 when he confronted a murder suspect in Cleveland.
“This response is exactly what law enforcement needs in our world right now – this support. It’s a motivator to us,” said Cpl. Eran Denzler with the East Montgomery County Special Response Team and one of the organizers for the event on Saturday. “We see this and are motivated to continue what we do – capturing the bad guys. Just knowing that the community is willing to take care of us and our families in our time of need means a lot.”
Since the shooting, several of Whitten’s brothers in blue have met weekly to organize the benefit with the help of Jack Wieghat, owner of Cleveland-based Trinity Armory, 2152 CR 388, the location for the event on Saturday. Together, they have put together an event, beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m., that is actually several in one, including a car show, live and silent auctions, barbecue fundraiser and cook-off, multi-gun shoot-off and a poker run.
Four performing artists and bands also will entertain the crowd with country and rock music. Bands and performers include The Adam Aiken Band, Jack Nelson, Dusty Neuman and Jake Bush.
To date, organizers have gathered 50 auction items with more coming in daily.
“We have shotguns, rifles and pistols. We have a country-style dinner table with benches that was donated,” Denzler said. “The big item is a 1998 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softtail Classic that was donated by a friend of Whitten who lives in California. He wanted to help and said he would donate this bike. He left California yesterday and will be here Friday in time for the event.”
The silent auction will begin at the start of the event at 10 a.m. and go through 2 p.m. At 2:15 p.m., bidding will begin on the live auction.
At 12:30 p.m., an awards presentation will take place with recognition of the first responders who aided Whitten and the other shooting victims, and the law enforcement officers who were instrumental in locating the shooting suspect, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound as law enforcement closed in on his location.
Raider, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice bloodhound who helped locate the suspect, will be a special guest on Saturday.
Four teams will compete in the barbecue cook-off and are also preparing all of the food that will be sold throughout the event, Denzler said.
“We have more than 650 pounds of meat donated, plus all the beans and potato salad we will need,” he said.
Two-meat plates will be sold for $10 each while supplies last.
Donations of water are still needed. Anyone who wants to help can drop off cases of water at Trinity Armory on Thursday or Friday.
All of the proceeds for the event will go to Whitten and his family. Whitten suffered a career-ending injury when he was shot in the neck, causing some paralysis.
“His road to recovery is forever. He will never be a cop again. Regardless of how much we raise, it’s not going to be enough because he has a lifetime of medical bills ahead,” Denzler said.
To see details about the different parts of the event, see the flyers below. To follow updates on the event, go online to https://www.facebook.com/events/595430094302331/