As he watched the reputation of law enforcement take a beating during incidents of national unrest, Dan Miller became determined to assure Fulton County’s finest that the citizens have their backs.
So the former mayor of Delta planted an idea with fellow members of Delta Eagles Post #2597 that became Backing The Blue. The barbeque fundraiser, scheduled Sept. 12 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. or until sold out, will be held at the county fairgrounds on State Route 108. It’s designed to both salute the service of the county’s sheriff’s office and six police departments and raise money for their operations.
“We just want to make sure the police departments know that they have the communities’ support,” Eagles President Richard Berry said. “They’re heroes, and they do what only a select few do.”
The drive-through barbeque event will have 6,000 chicken dinners available for $10 each, and 4,000 rib dinners for $15 each. The dinners will be prepared by Bar-B-Que Traveler of Lacarne, Ohio, which also provides for Delta’s annual Chicken Festival.
“This is their biggest one-day meals (event) that they’ve ever done,” Berry said.
Meal orders of 50 or more can be delivered within the Fulton County area during the event. A 50/50 raffle with a prize potential of up to $25,000 will also be held.
“There will be plenty of police officers there with their lights on to guide everybody and make sure everything runs smoothly,” Berry said.
All proceeds will be evenly divided between the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and the Archbold, Delta, Fayette, Swanton, and Wauseon police departments. Each entity will use the money for its individual needs.
Presale dinner tickets are available through the Delta Eagles or any of the listed police departments.
Banners advertising the event have been displayed by Terry Henricks Auto Group in Archbold, Tri County Block and Brick in Swanton, and Becker Automotive Specialties in Wauseon. Berry said the fundraiser is “to let our communities know that the police support us and we’re supporting back to them for everything they do. Everybody sees what goes on in big communities. That doesn’t go on in our communities. We don’t have these issues.”
He encouraged county businesses and residents to also donate to the event. Donations are tax deductible, and can be contributed during the fundraiser or directly to the Delta Eagles at 304 W. Main St.
“This will probably be one of the biggest charity events that we have ever done,” Berry said. The organization also supports Ronald McDonald House and the Fulton County Special Olympics, among other causes.
“The Delta Eagles do so much for the community. We are people helping people – that is our motto,” Berry said. “This is to let police know they’re supported in this county.”
Miller said the fundraising idea was born out of his frustration over recent criticism of police departments across the country. He was further inspired following the tragic death of Toledo police officer Anthony Dia.
“It started with people having a bad remark for the police departments nationwide,” Miller said. “What needed to be shown is, fortunately, there’s a silent majority out there that has their back. I know how good all of our departments are in Fulton County…and how much respect everybody has for their departments. I just definitely believe that that thin line of blue needs to know they have support out there.”
He lauded the Delta Eagles for putting their efforts behind the barbeque, and said he’s gotten word that people in surrounding counties will attend. “They thought it was a great idea, and they’re making the trip to support it,” he said.
In fact, Miller has been asked to present the concept to outside organizations interested in replicating the fundraiser.
Archbold Police Chief Leo Wixom said none of the current national backlash against law enforcement has trickled down to the village’s department. “We get on a weekly basis everybody telling us that they support us and the things we do, and we appreciate that,” he said.
Wixom said the village police will use its share of Backing the Blue proceeds for outreach programs, such as Safety City and a bike rodeo. “We’re going to give it back to the community,” he said.
Berry said the Eagles post has considered repeating the fundraiser next year to benefit local fire departments and emergency medical services.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.