Community Starts Fundraiser To Help Police Officer - KMSP-TV

Community Starts Fundraiser To Help Police Officer Battling Cancer

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The law enforcement community in Fort Worth came together to help a fellow officer battling cancer.

"She's literally been an inspiration to everybody in the office," said Detective Charla Smith.

Detective Charla Smith and her co-workers started a bake sale 3-weeks ago to try and raise money for fellow officer D.D. Willingham.

Willingham is battling lung cancer, and is up against a city policy that would leave her unemployed, 5-months shy of retirement.

"And she has fought harder than anyone I've ever seen. She has more dedication than anyone I've ever seen to come to work," said Smith.

At the time, $32,000 seemed nearly impossible.

However, the bake sale spawned a gun raffle, then there was a luncheon fundraiser on Friday, and a bowling benefit on Monday. 

Now, the impossible has been accomplished.

"Things came together in a way that we couldn't believe. I mean the only thing I can explain is that God stepped in and has made amazing things happen," said Smith.

The $32,000 was how much Willingham borrowed in order to buy forward her employment, in order to reach her 25-year retirement date, which gave her a much larger pension than if she took an early retirement.

"I don't even know what to say because it's overwhelming that we actually hit the goal," said Willingham's son Kenyon.

Her son Kenyon also a Fort Worth police officer was relieved because it would have taken years for the family to help his mom pay back the loan.

"We just really wanted to thank everybody, you know for the prayers, people who donated, people that weren't able, people that just helped share the link," said Willingham's son.

In a statement, the City Manager's Office said they met with Willingham last week to discuss her options, since her cancer left her unable to work full-time, ranged from employment assistance to another job with the city, to early retirement.

None of the options were as financially stable as the 25-year retirement package, according to the Willingham family.

"That's out of my realm, I mean I can't worry about that all. I can do is worry about my mother and just try to help her through the day try to make her as comfortable as possible," said Willingham's son.

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