By Leslie Baylis
It’s probably a good bet that the longer you are in the policing game the more cynical you tend to get. And if someone would have asked me if I thought it was possible that prominent members of our community would get together, volunteer their time, and put their money where their mouth is, all to the benefit of families of Halton officers injured or killed in the line of duty, well, I would have expressed my doubts.
Burlington businessman Keith Strong heard about the financial difficulties that Christine Russell, Sergeant Ryan Russell’s widow, was having and it shocked him. Six months later, he saw the same fate befall Melissa Styles after her husband, Constable Garrett Styles, was killed in the line of duty. Upon finding out that there was no short term financial assistance to the families of officers here in Halton, who might become seriously injured, Strong formed a committee to tackle this wrong. Thus began the creation of the Halton Heroes Foundation. Pretty amazing don’t you think? Here is what the committee says about their raison d’etre.
“Our Police Service responds to our calls without weighing the consequences to themselves. Let us return the favour by giving them peace of mind in the knowledge that their families will be provided for by the very communities they devote their lives to serving.”
Not yet sold on the concept? There’s more.
“We in Halton Region area blessed to have a Police Service well prepared to protect and serve the residents of this diverse community we call home. Imagine one of these dedicated public servants becoming injured or killed while protecting you, your family, or your home. The role of active partner, father, mother, caregiver, son, daughter becomes a distant memory to be replaced by a future filled with hospital stays, rehabilitation, care giving and mounting medical costs, home retrofits, increased child care expenses and perhaps single parenthood, should the worst occur. What we can provide is peace of mind.”
It is very humbling to read these words and very reassuring that members of the public think of us in this fashion, and this is all attributable to good people who live in our region. Many people gave of their time and wallets to make the Gala come to fruition. And here are the committee members, the main movers and shakers if you will:
Graham Barnes, Dorothy Borovich, Mark Carr, Jim Frizzle, Gaston Germain, Cheryl Goldring, Jack Moreira, Keith Strong, Gary Thomson, Maureen Tilson-Dyment, Brian Torsney and Les Vass
So a ton of work later it’s game-on for the Halton Heroes Gala, September 21st 2012 at the Burlington Convention Centre. Upon entry to the foyer, members of the Halton Heroes Committee were lined up to meet and greet attendees.
Entering the main hall, the evening began with cocktails and appetizers. Later on we were treated to a full service main course and dessert. Oh and did I mention it was also an open bar included?
The festivities began with the entry of the Honour Guard along with the Halton Pipes and Drums. The evening’s Master of Ceremonies was Heather Hiscox and she did a fantastic job keeping the event focused and fast paced. There were toasts and speeches and a video tribute to HRPS members. There was a ton of silent auction items and door prizes.
The evening featured many prominent guests of note including attendance by our Police Day – Police Officer for the Day Adam Cleveland. Later a stand up comedian provided comic relief, and the evening was closed out by dancing to the music of our very own Chintos.
And if all that wasn’t enough the efforts of the organizing committee, to coin a phrase, paid-off when the Halton Heroes Board presented the total amount raised as $ 141,200.00.
All told, the evening was an unmitigated success. For those of you who did not or could not attend, consider making next year’s Gala. It was a beautiful event, a noble cause, and a great evening of socializing with a public who truly care.
For more information check out the Halton Heroes website: www.haltonheroes.com