RADFORD, Va. – Proving that brotherhood goes beyond the badge, the Radford City Police Department is banding together to help a fellow officer after his wife and mother of their three young boys died suddenly.
Living in Giles County, Officer James Smith of the Radford City Police Department, his wife Nichole and their three young boys were the perfect picture of a happy family. That joy was shattered suddenly last week when Nichole died unexpectedly of natural causes at age 38.
"She was a wonderful person. You would be hard-pressed to find a better mother and a better spouse out there than she was. She was fantastic,” said Detective Eric McClanahan, with the Radford City Police Department.
A plaque from Nichole's funeral now hangs above Smith's desk at the department, a reminder to all of an unimaginable loss.
"I don't think you prepare for something like that. I know you don't,” McClanahan said.
McClanahan said his pain is felt by his fellow officers, who know the struggles of being a single parent of three lie ahead.
"A lot of them are physical, many of them are emotional and obviously there is the economic aspect of trying to raise three kids on a police officer’s salary. That's tough,” McClanahan said.
McClanahan wants the community to give back to Smith, who has spent 16 years protecting it.
"You hear the term that we bleed together, and we do. It's part of the job. Without one another, there is really no way we could get through this career. Other officer’s families are our families, and that's the way we get through each and every day,” McClanahan said.
The Police Department has planned a number of fundraisers.
A GoFundMe page has gained a lot of community support in the past three days alone.
"To look into three little boys' eyes and know what they are going through? That is why we want to help. He is our brother. He is our extended family, and they need it," McClanahan said.
In addition to the GoFundMe page, donations can be made at any local National Bank office in Pearisburg, Pembroke, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Dublin, Rich Creek, Radford and Pulaski. The account is named “James L. Smith, Jr. Smith Boys Fund.” Checks can state "Smith Boys Fund" on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to:
P.O. Box 90002
Blacksburg, VA 24062
In Balance Yoga Studio in Blacksburg will be holding a donations class (free class, donations only) Saturday March 10 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. This will be an all levels, beginner friendly class to bring people together to help raise money for Smith and his family. All donations will go to the bank account set up at National Bank.
Another fundraiser will be held at CrossFit in Radford on March 2 at Friday Night Lights. Organizers are asking for a $10 dollar donation.