SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Friday was Peace Officers Memorial Day, part of National Police Week to honor law enforcement officers nationwide who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Courtesy: Springfield Police Department
Missouri's lone officer killed in the line of duty this year is from Springfield. On Friday, a very special gift was presented to his family.
On the average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty in the U.S. every 54 hours, and two -months-ago to the day of Friday's Peace Officers Memorial Day (March 15) that statistic hit home in Springfield when 32 year-old Christopher Walsh, who survived Army deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, was gunned down at a Kum-and-Go convenience store while trying to stop a mass shooter who also took the lives of three others.
While the COVID-19 crisis has taken over the headlines, Walsh's wife Sheri and daughter Morgan have had to get on with their lives. But on the day America paid tribute to those who gave their lives in the line of duty, a New York-based organization let the Walsh family know the world still cares about them by paying off the family's remaining mortgage.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation is named in honor of Stephen Siller, a New York firefighter who died on 9/11. Over the years that organization has paid out over $250 million to settle the mortgages of fallen first responders and veterans.
"Really it exists to add some stability in a completely sudden tragic loss," explained Trevor Tamsen, a media spokesperson for Tunnel to Towers. "It allows the family to have a little sense of security. They don't have to ever worry about having a roof over their head so they can stay in their home where they made so many family memories."
Local support is still there as well. On Friday afternoon at the Springfield Police Officers' Association lodge in downtown Springfield the Greek Corner Screen Printing and Embroidery business donated $7,299 that was raised from selling memorial T-shirts to SPOA's fund for Walsh.
"This hits a little closer to home for me because my daughter and officer Walsh's daughter are in the same class at school this year," said Greek Corner owner Jason Parke. "The Springfield Police Department and the Greene Co. Sheriff's Office take care of our community and keep us safe. They're risking their lives every day so this is a way we can give back."
That's part of over $27,000 the Greek Corner has contributed in fundraising campaigns for another fallen officer, Greene County deputy Aaron Roberts, as well as supporting local businesses and non-profits crippled by the COVID-19 outbreak.
SPOA Treasurer Brandon Keene pointed out that tens-of-thousands of dollars from individuals and other businesses have been donated to Walsh's memorial fund.
"Our donations range from three dollars to thousands of dollars," he said. "But the three dollars means just as much to us because that shows that the community and in some cases the world are so compassionate about taking care of people in this grieving process. The grief never ends. You will always feel that pain, that hole in your heart. While the monetary donations help, they never get rid of that pain. But what they do is prevent other grief. Walsh provided for his family and we want to make sure that burden is replaced."
If you'd like to make a donation to Tunnel to Towers you can go to their website at: tunnel2towers.org
If you'd like to make a donation to the Springfield Police Officers' Association memorial fund for Walsh you can go their website at: