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A worthy cause
Fundraiser to benefit retired officer
Retired Richmond Hill police Sgt. Pat Sellers, center, stands with her family -- from left, grandson Austin Bacon, daughter Kim Bacon and husband John -- in the backyard of their Richmond Hill home. A golf tournment will be held Friday to benefit Sellers, who was diagnosed with cancer in December 2009.
Some members of the Richmond Hill Police Department may be trading their uniforms Friday for plaid pants and Polo shirts to raise funds to help a former city police officer.
The department, in conjunction with city council member Jimmy Hires, has organized a golf tournament fundraiser to benefit retired police Sgt. Pat Sellers, who was diagnosed last year with cancer.
The tournament begins at 2 p.m. Friday at Sterling Links Golf Course, and anyone interested in playing or becoming a hole sponsor still has time to sign up.
Sellers retired from the department in 1999 after helping protect the city for 13 years.
Police Chief Billy Reynolds, who first got to know Sellers as a dispatcher for Georgia State Patrol, said he always enjoyed working with her.
“(The department was) pretty small when Sgt. Sellers was here, but she was the first DARE officer here in Bryan County,” Reynolds said.
DARE is an anti-drug program that is now advocated in schools all over the country. But when it first got rolling in Bryan County, Reynolds said Sellers served as the DARE officer for both RHPD and the sheriff’s department.
“She really loved doing that job,” he said. “She did it for several years and did a good at it.”
Reynolds called Sellers a “mother figure” to some of the younger officers that worked with her and said she was someone they could go to for advice.
When repeated to Sellers, she just smiled.
“I was the only female and was older, so some of them I kind of kept out of trouble,” she said from the kitchen table of her daughter’s Richmond Hill home.
Sellers, 63, and her husband John recently returned to the city after having lived in Bulloch County for about three years.
They made the move to the country in December of 2006 where they could afford land to keep Sellers’ six miniature horses.
But after Sellers was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2009, they found a new home for all six of the horses and made plans to move back to Richmond Hill.
“We moved her back here so I could help Dad take care of her,” Kim Bacon, Sellers’ daughter said. “She’s closer to home and to her doctors.”
The Sellers moved in with Bacon and her 12-year-old son Austin over the Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s just a lot easier all the way around for medical needs and family needs,” Bacon said. “I’m glad to they’re back.”
Sellers was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma – a non-smoking form of lung cancer and the most common form of lung cancer there is. Around 75 percent of those who are diagnosed with it don’t survive because it usually isn’t detected until it’s at stage four.
“They call it a silent cancer because it goes undetected for so long it’s hard to catch,” Bacon said.
Sellers was already in stage four when doctors found the cancer, and it has since spread to her liver. She’s undergone radiation and is currently working through her second round of chemotherapy.
Though Sellers has health insurance, it doesn’t cover everything, and the costs quickly add up. That’s where the police department is hoping to help. All of the proceeds from Friday’s golf tournament will go to Sellers for medical and related expenses.
“Obviously, I thought a lot of (Sellers),” Reynolds said. “She retired and moved away, but when we heard about the problems she was having, we thought, ‘She’s still one of us.’”
So far the tournament has $7,000 in hole sponsors, but Reynolds said they’re hoping for $10,000. Hole sponsorship is $100 and he said there is still time to sign up.
Reynolds said they also need about 15 more teams to play on Friday and noted that folks can show up the day of the tournament and sign up to play.
“We want to thank the public and Pat’s friend and people in Richmond Hill and the surrounding areas for contributing to what we think is a worthy fund,” Reynolds said. “I don’t like asking people for money but this is a great cause … We want to do what we can to help her and we appreciate everybody’s contributions.”
Sellers and her family are planning to attend the golf tournament Friday and are very grateful to the police department and the community for their efforts.
Bacon said it’s making a tough situation easier by lessening the financial burden.
“They really came together for me – it’s pretty amazing,” Sellers said.
For more information on becoming a hole sponsor or to sign up a team, contact Billy Reynolds at 756-5645, Jimmy Hires at 756-2625 or Marilyn Hodges at 658-1572.
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