Southport car show raises money for Lt. Allan's surviving family

WTHR image by Jim Johnston
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SOUTHPORT, Ind. (WTHR) - A week after a city mourned the death of Southport police officer Lt. Aaron Allan, it reached out to help his family in a big way. A little car show in Southport was bigger - a lot bigger - than anyone imagined.

Organizers are working on the numbers, but figured they raised more than $10-thousand to help Stacy Allan and children T. J. and Aaron, Jr.

America's love affair with the automobile became a way for people to express their love, their concern and their gratitude for the life and service of Lt. Allan on Saturday.

About a thousand show cars, and 3,500 car fans, four times as many as organizers expected, showed up and paid up to help the police officer's family.

Sgt. Jay Thomas was Allan's friend and fellow officer. "I say wow, we had no idea it would be this big," Thomas said Saturday.

Southport High School's parking lots weren't big enough. The cars and crowd took over a baseball field.

As soon as car owner Terry Jarchow heard about the fundraiser, she signed up.

"If cops are out there doing their job, they should be protected," she said. "And then once something, a tragedy like this happens we come out to support them."

Ava, Kaylee and Chloe were getting almost as much attention as the cars. All afternoon Ava Bedwell heard "Can I have a bracelet? Can I have a bracelet" she laughed.

The $2 bracelets said "heroes wear badges" next to Lt. Allan's name. In just a few minutes they sold five of them. One man didn’t want the bracelet but handed them a $20 bill to pass along to the officer's family.

Car fans have huge appetites. Food venders donated some of their profits. Red Earles donated all of them and canceled another engagement to help a police officer's family

"They need as much support as we can lend," Red said while shoveling cheeseburgers, hot dogs and chicken from the grill to the plates of waiting customers. "If that means I need to cancel events to come out here and do this to support his family, that's what I do."

The show will likely raise 3 or 4 times more money than Allan's friend and fellow officer Jay Thomas had hoped.

"It tells me we have the backing of the community," he said. "It tells me people still have the love for law enforcement and what we do."

The state provides some benefits to the families of public safety officers killed in line of duty.

There is $12,000 for funeral expenses, a $150,000 death benefit and spouses receive 100-percent of an officer's retirement benefits. If the fallen officer's children attend a state university or college, they do not have to pay tuition or fees.

Even with those benefits, Thomas said Allan's family will need additional help. "She doesn't have him to wake up to, doesn't have him to depend on to pay a bill," he explaind. "Nobody thinks about the times she has to stay off work to deal with this, to deal not only with the grief, but the grief of her children."

The car owners took pride in their cars and their accomplishment. Before driving off, one Mustang owner proudly but quietly shared that car club alone raised $1,400.