SHEFFIELD — Law enforcement officers and community members from throughout Northeast Ohio visited a lemonade stand set up by three children Friday and Saturday, helping to raise about $7,500 for a Lorain County SWAT Team member who was shot during a standoff last month.
Amherst police Officer Eugene Ptacek was shot multiple times during a standoff May 31 in Sheffield Lake. A member of the Lorain County SWAT team, Ptacek was flown to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland in critical condition. He remains at MetroHealth, but is now doing a little better and is in serious condition.
Trista Rowe, 7, Timothy Rowe, 11, and Natalie Brown, 7, joined forces to raise money for Ptacek and his family, setting up a lemonade stand and bake sale at the Sheffield Police Station at Colorado Avenue and East River Road. Trista and Timothy’s mom, Stacy Francis, said the turnout was beyond anything the group could have hoped for.
“The turnout was simply amazing, it was above and beyond anything we could have thought,” Francis said. “We’ve had officers from all over, we’ve had SWAT members, we’ve had the community — people as far as Cleveland, Stow.”
“I only thought that we would maybe get like 10 people at the most,” he said. “It’s exciting because all this money is going to help out his family, so I really like it.”
Francis said Trista and Natalie spoke with Ptacek using FaceTime and plan to meet him once he has recovered.
The money the group collected was turned over to the Lorain County Blue Foundation on Saturday evening, and later will be given to Ptacek and his family, according to the organization’s executive director, Chris Barton.
Lorain County Blue was created to aid law enforcement officers who have been critically or fatally injured in the line of duty. What started out as a chili cook-off in 2009 has grown into a permanent fund for officers and their families in Ptacek’s situation.
“We’re here to make things easier and help the (officer’s) family,” Barton said. “This family, doing what they did, it’s amazing to see three young kids say, ‘Hey, lets help a police officer.’ That means a lot to police officers everywhere.”
A K-9 officer himself, Barton said he wasn’t surprised by the turnout the event got, but it highlighted the support the community has for its officers.
“Obviously we deal with a lot of tragedy, so to see kids or a family or a community come out and do this, it’s awesome to see,” he said “(It) just restores my faith in the community and the support we have.”
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