Fundraiser supports families of fallen CHP officers

The Fresno BeeApril 18, 2014 

Police and Fire: The Fallen Heroes, a nonprofit founded by Tom Gallinatti, left, raised funds for the families of CHP officers Juan Gonzalez and Brian Law, pictured in background, who were killed in a vehicle accident Feb. 17.

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It wasn't a lot of money, compared to some fundraisers -- about $4,400, says the founder of a nonprofit organization called Police and Fire: The Fallen Heroes.

But there was a bigger goal: Showing the families of fallen California Highway Patrol officers Juan Gonzalez and Brian Law, who died in an accident Feb. 17 responding to a crash in Kingsburg, that they are supported and cared for.

"My expectation and hope is when someone dies in the line of duty, somebody steps up and helps, and that it's everybody -- it's not just one entity," said Tom Gallinatti, the nonprofit's founder and chief executive officer. "We as a community need to step up and give them some support ... their death wasn't in vain. That's the way we try to look at it."

Gallinatti's group hosted two fundraisers last month to support the families of Law and Gonzalez at Mountain Mike's Pizza restaurants in Fresno and Madera counties. Mountain Mike's donated 25% of its shop's profits on fundraiser days to a CHP trust fund established for the officers' families. And 100% of donations were given to the fund, Gallinatti said.

The money was donated at a ceremony in Fresno last week.

The nonprofit based out of Walnut Creek was founded almost five years ago. It started soon after Gallinatti -- who retired as a battalion chief with the Oakland Fire Department after 30 years -- led a fundraiser for four Oakland police officers killed in 2009.

Last year, the nonprofit helped honor 13 fallen law enforcement and firefighters in California. Gallinatti said those killed left behind 15 children -- their average age: 8.

More information about the nonprofit can be found online at www.thefallenheroes.org.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6386, cgeorge@fresnobee.com or @CarmenGeorge on Twitter.

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