For nearly two decades, veteran Amherst police officer Eugene “J.R.” Ptacek has served the community. This weekend, the community returned the favor.
Ptacek, a 17-year veteran peacekeeper, was critically wounded on May 31st after being shot by a man that authorities were trying to arrest. Spearheaded by three kids, the community came together to raise money for Ptacek’s recovery.
Trista Rowe, 7, Natalie Brown, 7, and Timothy Rowe, 11, helped organize the fundraiser, which included selling baked treats and lemonade outside the Sheffield Village Police Department. “I heard that he got hurt so I wanted to do something for him and his family,” Trista Rowe said.
And that’s how idea was born. The three youngsters cobbled together the money they had in their piggy banks to help set up the fundraiser. Once organizations like Lorain County Blue Foundation and Operation Open Heart of Lorain County caught wind, the idea took off. The kids initially set a goal of $1,500.
Once the weekend was over, $7,500 had been raised.
“These young ladies are the real unsung heroes. They’re the ones that came up with the idea,” said Sheffield Village Mayor John D. Hunter. “You have seven and eight-year-old kids out here caring about law enforcement, caring about first responders and showing it.”
Ptacek was critically wounded late last month when authorities tried to serve an arrest warrant on Martin Robinson, a 39-year-old former corrections officer, in Sheffield Lake. When the SWAT team tried to gain entry into the home after a lengthy standoff, Robinson allegedly opened fire and wounded Ptacek.
Ptacek remains in serious condition at Metro Hospital.
“You have a young girl, seven years old, that came up with this and brainstormed this. I just think that’s awesome. It just goes to show the positive-ness that flows throughout communities in our area,” said Amherst police Lt. Mark Cawthon. “ I know the officer and our community is very appreciative.”
Mayor Hunter said the youngers’ actions should be an inspiration to everyone.
“It’s a lesson to all of us that if these kids can give so much, we ought to give a little bit,” Mayor Hunter said.
Donations to Ptacek’s recovery can still be made to the Lorain County Blue Foundation by calling 440-934-1214.