“No One Fights Alone” was the theme at a fundraiser for a Lee’s Summit police officer who has fought to beat melanoma over the past year.
Detective Shawn Rath has endured months of chemotherapy, radiation treatments, immunotherapy and 10 surgeries, including two brain surgeries over the last two months.
The fundraiser pulled in about $13,000.
Rath has been with the Lee’s Summit Police Department for about 10 years, with a 20 year career in the military and law enforcement. He serves on the department’s crisis intervention team, which has additional training and responds to emergencies involving people with a mental illness or similar issue. He also serves as a hostage negotiator.
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“Having this community giving back to me is phenomenal,” Rath said. “I’m used to helping other people out. It’s flipping the tables. It’s just a beautiful thing to have help given back to me.”
The event, held in the parking lot of Fun House Pizza in Lee’s Summit, was packed by around noon, particularly with vehicles from the Kansas City Jeep Club, which turned out in force. The fundraiser included raffles, a dunk tank, head shave and silent auction.
T-shirts with the slogan #standwithshawn were plentiful at the event. Officer Jennifer Kudzinski wore one as she had her head shaved, for a donation.
“Now I’m going to need some sunscreen, or I’m going to burn my noggin,” Kudzinski said of her hair clipped down to the scalp, her way of supporting her fellow officer.
“He’s one of my really good friends,” Kudzinski said, adding that the event was organized in only a week and a half. “I can’t believe how many people showed up.”
Sgt. Chris Depue, department spokesman, spent the morning getting dumped repeatedly in the dunk tank. He guessed about 1,500 people had come but added he didn’t have a good vantage point for making an estimate.
Carrie Rath said that she and her son Patrick, 8, appreciate the emotional and financial support they’ve been getting from fellow officers.
“That’s just how they are. It’s a brotherhood and sisterhood,” Carrie Rath said.
The family has been struggling to make ends meet, as Rath’s income has dropped. He’s used his sick leave and is now getting only disability. She’s missed work, as she’s had to help care for her husband, and their son.
The medical bills have totaled about $4 million, she said, and while they aren’t responsible for anywhere near that amount, the co-pays have added up. It’s challenging to see all they’ve worked for at risk because of the financial strain, she said.
Carrie Rath said sometimes it is rough for her husband to be on the receiving end of care, but most of the time he is positive and very hopeful. She said statistics show that’s a factor in overcoming the disease.
“He’s a fighter. He never gives up,” she said.