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Widows of killed Border Patorl agents start nonprofit
For the families of law enforcement personnel who die in the line of duty, grief is but one aspect of the trauma they face. They must also come up with the money necessary to pay for funeral costs and other bills even after the paychecks from the deceased stop coming.
To help provide money to such families in need, the widows of two slain Border Patrol agents have created the nonprofit Rojas and Clark Memorial Fund.
In the future, money from the fund will be given to the families of law enforcement personnel who die in the line of duty in the Yuma area, should tragedy strike.
Nereida “Neddy” Clark, president of the trust fund and widow of Border Patrol Senior Patrol Agent Hector Clark, knows first- hand how stressful it can be when a family member dies in the line of duty.
When Hector and his partner Eduardo Rojas were killed in May 2011 when their SUV was struck by a train, Neddy was unprepared for all the expenses that would follow.
“When they pass away, checks stop and you are faced with all the bills,” she said.
“Funeral expenses are not cheap. You not only have burial expenses, you have all your regular bills. You have family coming in from out of town. Everything just piles up on you.”
She wanted to honor her husband with a proper burial, “but how could I do it financially?” she asked.
Neddy contacted her insurance agent, but before a claim could be filed she needed a death certificate. She wouldn't get such a certificate for about three months, long after the funeral had been held.
“I don't know what was more agonizing, the fact that he had passed away and the shock, or knowing that I didn't have the finances to bury him,” Neddy said.
That's when the Choir Boys Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club stepped in. Within two days of Hector's death, a representative from the club was in Yuma from out of town to give Neddy a check for $3,000. At that time there was not a Yuma chapter.
“For people in my situation, that means a lot,” she said. “Honestly it was a huge relief. I wanted to cry. I wanted to hug them. At that time they did not know what a difference they made. They saved my family.”
The only mission of the Choir Boys LEMC is to help “the survivors of those who were killed or seriously injured in law enforcement,” said Mark Quick, an officer of the Choir Boys LEMC Yuma chapter, which was recently founded.
“Those first couple of days are the most stressful. Everybody has insurance, but it takes weeks or months. There are arrangements that have to be made right away, and stuff that has to be paid for within days. We make it a point to show up within just a couple of days with enough money to get some of this stuff paid for and taken care of.”
Now almost one year after their first donation, the Choir Boys have donated $1,000 to the Rojas and Clark Memorial Fund.
“That money that they are donating is going to go to future families,” Neddy said. “They gave to us therefore now we give back. We are a community where there is so much law enforcement. They protect us so let's take care of their families.”
Neddy, accompanied by daughter Katie and son Cody, was presented with a check from Quick on Saturday afternoon.
To further honor both Hector and Eduardo, the check was given to Neddy in front of their headstones located in the Border Patrol Memorial Garden at Yuma Sector Headquarters on Avenue A.
Leaders of the Choir Boys LEMC Yuma chapter are currently seeking new members who will help raise money for the families of law enforcement personnel who die in the line of duty.
To be eligible, members must be an active or honorably retired officer, deputy sheriff or agent of any federal, state, county or municipal law enforcement agency and defined as a peace officer by federal or state law. They must also own a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
For more information about the Choir Boys, log on to http://www.choirboyslemc.org or call 760-996-6039.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6849.