Benefit To Help Tyler ISD Officer With Medical Bills
By TIM MONZINGO
A Tyler ISD police officer with cancer is getting some extra help from fellow officers and students.
On Saturday, the Blue Knights, a motorcycle club of police officers, along with Robert E. Lee high school students, will host a benefit for Officer Will Rider, a 39 year-old employee at the high school, who was diagnosed with stage four esophageal cancer last month.
"The doctors say he will be off work for the next six months at least," said Officer Leisa Geddie, a Blue Knights member and district officer organizing the event. "They're (the family is) hurting; they're going to need all the help they can get."
She said Saturday's festivities will kick off across from the Brookshire's on Texas Highway 64 with a motorcycle ride, which will end at the high school.
Officer Geddie said the high school parking lot will be filled with food, bounce houses for kids, a silent auction, raffle items, a car and motorcycle show and more. The proceeds will go to Rider's family to help pay for treatments, she said.
As a police officer at the high school and Hubbard Middle School for eight years, students have come to know Rider through his hulking frame and demeanor, said Officer Criss Hammack, who also works at the high school. Hammack described Rider as "a big teddy bear."
His years in the district and participation in school events encouraged students who knew him to get involved in the benefit, Geddie said.
"The kids at Robert E. Lee are really amazing because the majority of them have jumped in and wanted to help out," she said. "They'll be running a lot of the booths. They've donated a lot of their projects and time to be sold in the auction."
Conner Grooms and Jeffery Nash are two students who volunteered their Saturday to help set up and run the benefit.
Nash said projects from the agriculture program, including trailers, hog traps and pens, will be put up for grabs.
"I was sorry to hear what happened to him," Nash, 17, said. "It really just puts me down, and so I wanted to do something to cheer him up a little bit and make it worth his while."
Grooms said he got to know Rider because the officer worked Red Raiders' football games.
"He's always done the right thing, he's always done his job the best he could," he said.
Nash said the students volunteering for the benefit all got something out of knowing Rider throughout their careers at the school. This, he said, is the chance to give something back to Rider when he needs it.
"He's a great man and if you knew him like we did, you'd do the absolute same thing," he said.
Geddie said auctions will be held for a Nintendo Wii and three fire arms: a Glock pistol and two rifles. Tickets for the Nintendo cost $1, she said, and tickets for the pistol and rifles are $5 and $10 respectively.
Nash said that along with raising money, they hope the event will raise the Rider family's spirits as well.
"We don't like seeing people down and if somebody's down, we want to step in and go hand in hand and bring them back up," he said. "That's what we're going to do for Officer Rider and we're going to show everybody what he's made of, how great he actually is."