At a recent party, I chatted with Joseph Riley, president of National Savings and Trust, about the upcoming golf tournament for the benefit of Heroes, Inc.
Joe was bubbling with enthusiasm, and I made a comment about the pizazz with which he was looking forward to the work involved. Joe grinned. "It's the only charity I know of," he said, "in which not one penny is taken out for expenses. It's not just another do-good project, it's a one-of-a-kind community undertaking that makes me tingle with excitement."
Not a penny of your contribution is taken out for expenses because members volunteer to do most of the organization's work. A small, unpublicized group called "members" pays for whatever help must be hired. It also pays for rent, furniture, telephones, mailing expense and every other overhead item.
One hundred cents of the contributor's dollar is used for the stated purpose of Heroes, Inc: to care for the widows and orphans of all area law officers and firefighters who lose their lives in the line of duty.
In the past year, we lost three men: Tony Kelsey of the Prince George's County Police Department, shot to death in a drug case; Arthur Snyder of the Metropolitan Police Department, shot to death in a drug case; and Thomas Graves Jr. of the Prince George's County Fire Department, who was inside a burning building when it exploded and collapsed.
Since Heroes, Inc., was founded 16 years ago, 88 men and women in blue have died in the line of duty. They left 94 children. In each case, Heroes was instantly available for help and counsel to survivors. In each case, Heroes stayed on the job until it was done, or remains on the job with 54 families that still need assistance. Many of the surviving children have been helped through college and at this moment 13 more youngsters and two widows are on their way through college. Nothing we can do for the survivors can restore their loved ones to them, but it's good to know that at least we do what we can.
This year's golf tournament is sold out, thank heaven. But if you'd like to share Joe Riley's enthusiasm for helping the survivors of law officers and firefighters who died to protect us from harm, please do this: Make out a tax deductible check to Heroes, Inc. Mail it to Heroes, P.O. Box 1860, Washington, D.C. 20013. Please send your check to Heroes, not to me.
If you think it's strange that Heroes holds its annual fund-raising drive in July instead December, when everybody is full of the Christmas spirit, let me tell you how this came about: an MPD detective named Bob Denell thought up the golf tournament as a fund-raising gimmick many years ago. Washington golf tournaments are played in July, not December.
Bud Doggett, the parking lot man who is president of Heroes, put his arm around Denell's shoulder and said, "My friend, if you don't know better than to try to raise money in July, just go ahead and try, and we'll all pitch in and help." Denell is retired now, but his idea is still working. My hat is off to him.