Community raises $8K for police officer

Published 8:32 am Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The community of Edwardsburg came together to help out one of their own Saturday.

The American Legion hosted a benefit for Ontwa Township-Edwardsburg Police Department’s Brian Robinson, but it took many to bring it all together and make it the success it was.

The Legion joined forces with the VFW and police department to put together the fundraiser for Robinson, who suffers from non-hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was diagnosed with the disease in August. Robinson underwent his last chemo in December and was scheduled to go to the University of Michigan on Tuesday to continue his treatment.

Unfortunately, Robinson came down with pneumonia, which will delay the start of treatment and left him unable to attend Saturday’s benefit, which drew between 600 and 800 people, according to Edwardsburg Police officer Kevin English, one of the people who helped spearhead the event.

English said the goal was to raise enough money to cover the department’s deductible. The benefit raised more than $8,400 in a preliminary count.

“We were shooting to cover the deductible, but we exceeded that by a bunch,” English said. “The place was packed the entire time. We had several people walk in and donate and then turn around and walk back out.”

The benefit included a spaghetti dinner, auction and a live band. English said that some 320 tickets were sold for the spaghetti dinner.

“We would like to give a profound thanks to the community for coming out and supporting Brian,” English said. “He is totally beside himself. He cannot believe how many people came.

“He doesn’t know how he is going to thank all those people. I tried to tell him that they all came to thank him for all that he has done and his years of service.”

Robinson, who joined the police force in April of 1989, served in the Army from 1973 to 1977. During that time he received several unit and personal commendations.

Robinson started his law enforcement career with Howard Township and Wayne Township police before coming to Edwardsburg.

Robinson worked as a patrol officer and later became the school liaison officer with the Edwardsburg Public Schools.

He is also a decorated Ontwa Township-Edwardsburg Police officer after he and Sheriff’s Office patrol officer Beth Covell (Davis) saved the lives of two small children by rescuing them from a burning house at the corner of Elkhart Road and M-62.

Mike McKinley and Frank Kujawa were contacted and their skills at putting on fundraisers were put to use by English and the police department.

“We do a lot of benefits for anybody and everything, so they came to us and asked if we could put a benefit on,” McKinley said. “And then the American Legion and the VFW just jumped on board because he’s a veteran and it’s the Edwardsburg community.

“There is not a better place on earth to raise money than Edwardsburg. Their hearts are open and people give. They give a lot. Everybody comes together and works hard to help somebody and that’s what community is supposed to be about.”

Ontwa Township-Edwardsburg Police Chief Kenneth Wray was pleased that everyone pitched in and helped out.

“We talked about how we should do something for Brian,” Wray said. “The insurance cost at the first of year means we have a $4,000 deductible. The department covers $2,000 of that, but you still have to come up with $2,000 when you are not working and you are on a limited about of money.

“That’s how we came up with the idea. Kevin thought we should talk to the Legion and the VFW and they ran with the ball.”