Last night, some friends of the late Mobile Police Officer, Sean Tuder, threw "the kind of party that he would've wanted to go to!". Officer Tuder ended his watch on January 20th, and a city collectively mourned. Fundraisers have popped up all over town and benefits for his wife Krissy are happening as we speak. When I first told you about "Remembering a Hero: Sean Tuder Benefit and Fundraiser" I had no idea what the event that I was excited to help out with would become. The overwhelming response on the Facebook Event page induced a venue change at the last minute as they went from 400 people to 1.5K in a couple of days. Luckily a few downtown businesses pitched in. A venue, food, and THOUSANDS of dollars in prizes from over a HUNDRED businesses in the community were donated and raffle tickets were sold for a chance at a gift. EVERY SINGLE PENNY would go the wife of Officer Tuder.
I was asked a few days before the event to help out a bit more. I was already collecting donations but when the event's emcee, a friend of mine named Tres, asked me to help him on stage I immediately said yes. For a moment i thought, "what have I gotten myself into", knowing this would be emotional and not the type of event I could screw up and laugh my way through. I manned up and went for it. Before Tres and I took the stage around 7:30, I asked him what he wanted to say and what he wanted me to say. A quick walk-through always helps. He said he would do introductions for us and the bands and rules about the raffle, but he wanted me to be the one to talk about the importance of why we were there. I said, "if I'm going to get up and here and talk about Officer Tuder, I need to go meet his wife.". Krissy was in the crowd and I made a beeline for her. I needed her to know that although I will never feel her pain, I know what it is like having a family member in blue. I needed her to know that although I never met her husband, she is my sister in a way forever. I hugged her, and Tres and I took the stage.
I've found that in moments like this, scripts are nothing but distractions. We decided to go with our hearts and kick off the night the way Officer Tuder would've appreciated. We thanked everyone for being there and let them know what to look forward to as the night went on. Tres made sure the event organizers got the credit they were due, as they pulled off something spectacular. Really, I'm so honored I got to be a part of it. When it came time to talk about why we were there, I was VERY glad that the stage lights were completely blinding me and I couldn't see anyone. With a giant lump in my throat and shaking hands, I asked the crowd to make sure they stopped by Krissy's table and hugged the wife of a hero. I told them that as the child of a police officer, it warmed my heart to see the response from the community during this time but to remember...remember that there are very few professions where a person signs up and suits up everyday knowing that 90% of the people they will come in contact with already looks at them with a negative tone. We HAVE TO stop telling kids from toddler-size that "if you're bad the cops are gonna come take you to jail". We have to remember that although the world looks at and treats them like the bad guys, they continue to answer the call. Every single call. No matter your sex, age, race, religion, sexual preference or college football preference...they answer the call. Sometimes, that call ends with an End of Watch. We have to remember to show them love and support ALL THE TIME, not just in times of tragedy. We ended with, "We would like to honor all of our first-responders, members of the Armed Forces and all of the family members that fight alongside them without a uniform. It's what Officer Tuder would've wanted. Please raise your glasses in appreciation for them, and for Sean, who will not soon be forgotten. CHEERS!" Everyone toasted, took a drink and celebrated the life of a man well-lived and well-loved.
I will never forget last night. Krissy, you truly do have a family member in me. Mobile, I am so proud of you. Let's not let the love stop here.
Check out some of the prizing and footage from last night.