Deputy from Cape to ‘Walk for the Fallen’
A Cape Coral man has come up with a walk to raise money for a national charity that helps the survivors of officers killed in the line of duty.
Sgt. David Drum, of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, will participate in the first ever “The Walk for the Fallen” in May, when he will walk 390 miles from Fort Myers to Tallahassee to raise funds for Concerns of Police Survivors.
Concerns of Police Survivors, or C.O.P.S., is a non-profit that provides resources to assist in the rebuilding of the lives of surviving families and affected co-workers of law enforcement officers who die while serving.
The organization also provides training to law enforcement agencies on survivor victimization issues, as well as educates the public on the need to support law enforcement and its survivors, the group’s website states.
“They’re a fantastic organization,” Drum said, noting the group offers assistance to spouses, parents and even siblings. “But they really focus on the kids, and helping the kids deal with the loss of one of their parents.”
According to Drum, C.O.P.S. utilized more than $3.5 million last year, and only 13 percent went toward administrative costs, benefits and payroll. He noted that the organization also will not accept donations from survivors.
“They just feel that you’ve paid the ultimate price already,” he said.
Drum explained that he came up with the idea for the walk in March. He was looking over the statistics for the total line-of-duty deaths for officers in the United States and saw that there was about 24 deaths already in 2011.
What really shocked Drum, though, was that 72 children lost a parent.
As of Tuesday, those numbers had risen to 156 officers and 228 children.
“I was sitting there looking at my three kids thinking, ‘Oh wow,'” he said.
Drum then thought about his brother and his uncle, who also are sergeants with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and both have children of their own.
He decided to find a way to raise awareness about the issue, as well as try and raise funds for a group that helps those left to deal. Once a hard runner – he stopped after a surgery a few years ago – Drum settled on the walk.
“I run a lot more than most people would like,” he said.
Drum worked out a timeline so the walk would end in Tallahassee on May 5, when the National Law Enforcement Memorial Day will be held. Drum is aiming to complete the walk from Fort Myers to the state Capitol within 10 days.
“I think it’s going to be very difficult,” he said. “But my mind set is very much set on it.”
Drum will participate in the Mangrove Marathon in the Cape on Dec. 11 to start raising awareness about what he is doing and help bring in donations.
“The Cape marathon is the first public event to get the ball rolling,” he said, adding that it also is the first marathon that he has ever participated in.
Drum has set a goal of raising $39,000 by May – $100 for every mile of the 390-mile hike to Tallahassee. As of Thursday, he had raised nearly $3,200.
“The money I raise will be used all over the country,” he said.
According to Drum, last year Florida was one of the states with the highest number of line-of-duty deaths, only being beaten out by Texas and California. Texas has more deaths than Florida this year – 13 versus 11, respectively.
Locally, the LCSO has lost seven deputies during its history. More recently, Drum cited the fatal shooting of Fort Myers Police Officer Andrew Widman in 2008, then pointed out the shooting of Cape Officer David Wagoner in April.
“By the grace of God, he was saved by his bullet-proof vest,” Drum said of Wagoner. “Fortunately, he’s not one of these statistics.”
For additional information on The Walk for the Fallen, visit the website at: www.facebook.com/walkforthefallen . To make a monetary donation and help Drum reach his goal, visit: www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/walkforthefallen .
People also can contact Drum at the LCSO at 477-1000 for details.
“We want to raise money (for C.O.P.S.), but we also want people to know what is going on,” he said. “We want people to realize that and remember.”
Drum will make the trek to Tallahassee with four friends for safety and support.
The team hopes to get donations or gift cards from businesses to help cover the costs of food, drinks and needed items, like running shoes.
The team also is open to anyone who wants to get involved and help.
Drum has been with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office since May 1999. He is married and the couple have three children, ages 22 months to 12 years old.