Cleveland SWAT and non-profit raise over $30K for officer paralyzed by drunk driver

The fundraiser was in support of Officer Jon Rodriguez, with a goal of raising $50,000 for a life-changing surgery he is set to undergo due to the accident


By Ashley Silver

PARMA, Ohio — A police department and non-profit partnered to raise over $30,000 last week for a Cleveland SWAT officer who was paralyzed after being struck by a drunk driver two years ago.

WKYC News reports the fundraiser drew more than 700 people in support of Officer Jon Rodriguez, with a goal of raising $50,000 for a life-changing surgery he is set to undergo due to the accident.

"After the two or three years that this has happened to see the amount of people you're seeing tonight, this is a sellout crowd, it's been sold out for weeks," Ralph Spidaleri with nonprofit Blue Line Unlimited, told WKYC News. Blue Line Unlimited, along with Cleveland SWAT officers, helped organize the fundraiser.

During the event, various people spoke to WKYC News about Officer Rodriguez’s kind heart and ‘beaming smile’. Organizers and the officer’s family originally only expected a few people to attend. However, the event ballooned to hundreds in just a few hours in support of the officer.

"It's awesome, it really is, it renews your faith in humanity, really it does and people have been coming up to us, we've sold out, people have just given us money they're not coming to the event," Cleveland SWAT Lieutenant Ray Kaloczi said.

Blue Line Unlimited raised $30,000 on its website before the event officially began. However, donations continued to pour in as the night went on, with one attendee donating $10,000 at the event.

"It was something that we could do and we could help bring this thing together and get it organized and facilitate it and that's what we did," Spidaleri told WKYC News.

 

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