Monday, October 08, 2001

Bracelets back police, rescuers

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        UNION — The more Sherry Walters watched television coverage of April's riots in Cincinnati, the angrier she became.

Sherry Walters, of Union, with her bracelet which bears the name of her son, Ryan Walters, a Boone County deputy sheriff.
(Patrick Reddy
Cincinnati Enquirer photo)
| ZOOM |
        Ms. Walters was upset nobody seemed to care about police and rescuers, but she has found a channel for her frustration.

        She is selling sterling silver “adoption” bracelets and badges that bear the names of Boone County police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

        The “adoption” bracelet or badge costs $25. A portion of the money goes to the new Boone County Public Safety Angel Fund, which would distribute money to officers or their family members who fall ill or are injured.

        “There are national funds, but none locally,” Ms. Walters said. And the purchase involves more than simply slapping jewelry on your wrist or lapel.

        “(People) will be making a commitment to (the rescuer), to pray for them,” Ms. Walters said. “They will contact the officer, unless they want to remain anonymous.”

        Ms. Walters said the idea for the bracelets came from the one-piece ones people wore in the 1960s and 1970s to remember soldiers taken prisoner or missing in action during the Vietnam War. She said a roster of Boone County, Florence and Walton police, firefighters and EMTs is available for those who want to buy a bracelet but do not know anyone working for those agencies.

        Ms. Walters doesn't remember how she came up with the idea, but the drive to sell the bracelets is still personal.

        Her father, the late Louie Riddell, was a Florence firefighter. Her son, Ryan Walters, is a Boone County sheriff's deputy, a nephew, Chad Riddell, is a Florence police officer, and Ms. Walters herself used to be an EMT in Union's fire department.

        It wasn't coverage of the riots that bothered Ms. Walters as much as disrespect of police and others she saw depicted.

        “I thought, how sad, how the policemen were going through that and appeared to have very little support from the city government,” Ms. Walters said last week. “That's how it appeared to me.”

        Though Ms. Walters came up with the bracelet and badge idea in April, she didn't tell anyone for a couple of months. By the summer, she finally mentioned it to Florence Mayor Diane Whalen, Florence Police Chief Tom Kathman and Boone County Sheriff Mike Helmig.

        “This is a good thing,” said Sheriff Helmig, who was “adopted” with a bracelet by wife Bonnie and 8-year-old daughter Paige. ""A lot of our staff is not old enough to remember the Vietnam bracelets.”

        For more information about purchasing the bracelets and badges, call Sherry Walters at (859) 384-3362.


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