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Community comes together for sick officer

Jacob Smith • May 14, 2018 at 3:41 PM

Police officers and community members from across Middle Tennessee came together Saturday to support Wilson County sheriff’s deputy and former Mt. Juliet police officer Justin Cagle.

Cagle was diagnosed with testicular cancer about three or four years ago. He had surgery to have it removed. But about six months ago, he found out the cancer had come back in a different area.

According to Cagle’s friend and former coworker Bill Toy, who now owns OTG Tactical, a law enforcement training company, the event was largely put together by Lynn Toy and Alyssa Dillard.

“When we became aware of the fact that Justin’s cancer had resurfaced, there was a push by MJPD and WCSO and his friends to all try and help,” said Toy. “James Cothron, Jeremy Reich and myself decided we could do much more good by working together to have one large event. Lynn stepped forward to organize and plan the event and Alyssa worked overtime to bring in 90 percent of all of our auction items. It really grew beyond anything we could have hoped for. [Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto] was kind enough to open our event and has been a steadfast supporter.”

The event Saturday featured live music, face painting, concessions for sale, a silent auction and a shooting competition.

Cagle said people had approached him several times about putting an event together, and he had turned them down, but he agreed to this event as long as it also raised money for the family of Lebanon police officer Joe Bowen, who died in March when he drove into a creek on his way home from work.

“I didn’t want any kind of attention or anything for this,” said Cagle. “Law enforcement is a tight brotherhood, and they put this fundraiser together. I felt so blessed, I wanted to put something toward other people.”

The proceeds from the sale of all the food at the benefit went to benefit Bowen’s family.

According to Toy, more than 200 people came out to the event, and many more gave donations even though they couldn’t attend.

“It was extremely heartwarming to see the response of our community. The way citizens and businesses came together to help and show support for these officers was just absolutely amazing,” said Toy. “We had one gentleman who walked up as we were setting up and asked if this was the benefit for the officers. When we answered yes, he pulled out a $100 bill, handed it to us and then walked away.”

Both Cagle and Toy talked about the brotherhood and camaraderie between law enforcement, event officers in another county.

“Cops predominantly work alone until something bad threatens us,” said Toy. “I have been on calls where we needed help and within minutes, five different agencies had responded and jumped in to give aid so I wasn’t surprised by the overwhelming response by middle Tennessee officers wanting to do anything they could to help Justin. We had donations from Brentwood PD, Murfreesboro PD, Rutherford County SWAT and many others outside of Wilson County. Justin has a well-earned reputation as a cop’s cop. He is always first through the door and eats, drinks and sleeps being a cop. After we lost [Bowen], Justin wanted to know how we could use this benefit to help his family, so we expanded it to include supporting officer Bowen’s family. It is very much a family.”

Sponsors for the event included Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Mt. Juliet Police Department, OTG – Tactical, D&D Events, Fugitive Extradition, Lannom & Williams, Lowery, Lowery and Cherry, Wes Dugan, Brody and Angel Kane, ASSES Security Services, Agent Automotive, Barrett Firearms and Outpost Armory.

Signs Now Lebanon did the banner for the event for free, Ralph Hix headed up the donation of all the food, Edgefield Meat donated all the hamburgers, Lynn Powell donated all the chips, Leon Basford cooked all the food, and the entertainment was donated by Jackie Deville, Maddie Walker and Sonic Voodoo.

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