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Dozens of people attend spaghetti fundraiser held for Portage County sheriff's deputy set on fire

Posted at 12:04 AM, Mar 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-03 00:11:04-05

ROOTSTOWN, Ohio — On Saturday dozens of people from Portage County poured into the Rootstown Elementary School gymnasium to support a local law enforcement officer.

Sergeant Jim Acklin was injured on the job on February 14. The 22-year veteran of the Portage County Sheriff's Department was responding to an arrest warrant when the suspect threw a flammable liquid on him and then set him on fire.

A third of Sgt. Acklin's body was burned. He spent four days in the Akron Children's Hospital in the burn unit undergoing surgery.

But on Saturday evening, Sgt. Acklin was met in the gymnasium with a standing ovation as community members attended a spaghetti fundraiser in his name.

"I just want to say thank you to this community," he said holding back tears. "This is truly what our neighborhoods and communities are like."

Joe Paulus, the vice president of the Rootstown Lions Club, organized the fundraiser.

"We're just trying to do our part to thank him and all of our law enforcement," Paulus said. "All of the money is going to the Acklin family."

Surprisingly, Sgt. Acklin said, his pain is minimal. "There's at least four skin graphs," he said. "But I feel good. I think everything's been healing better than they even expected."

Sgt. Acklin truly believes the power of prayer has played a pivotal role in his healing. "The letters, daycare centers, schools churches sending over cards and prayers. I swear the prayers did the healing," he said. "Every day I could have a smile on my face to see another card come in the mail."

That same smile was shared on Saturday as Sgt. Acklin shook hands and handed out hugs to community members.