Jenna Keel, an employee of JB's Variety Store, shows off the blue-and-black ribbons and banners the store designed to show support for Maj. Tommy Bradford and Dade's law enforcement officers. They are already showing up on mailboxes on Highway 11.
Dade is an old farming community with a long and beautiful tradition of taking care of its own, and nothing brings that out like a crisis. Thus it is no surprise that three days after Maj. Tommy Bradford of the Dade Sheriff's Department lost a leg and suffered other serious injuries during a high-speed, two-state police chase, Dade has thrown itself into a frenzy to find ways to support him and his family and to show love and solidarity for a local law enforcement sector shaken to its roots by the events of Aug. 7.
A prayer vigil was organized for Tuesday evening just hours after Bradford was airlifted to the hospital from Highway 11 just south of town, where he was laying spikes in an attempt to end the chase when the fugitive vehicle struck him. A blood drive coincidentally scheduled for the next day was swollen exponentially by local residents wishing to give blood in his name. On Wednesday, Sheriff Ray Cross announced an account would be set up at the Bank of Dade to benefit the Bradford family by Thursday morning. And on Friday, Seth Houts, an assistant vice president of the bank, confirmed that close to $5000 had been collected within the first day and a half.
Dr. Cason's Durham's chiropractic office, just across the street from the Bank of Dade, is the drop-off point for collecting money for and distribution of $20 T-shirts produced by Tarre Ridge Ginn, all proceeds to go to the Bradford family. A cornhole tournament in the family's benefit has been scheduled for 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Rising Fawn Circle A Arena. Here's a link to the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/495276290896442/
And J.B.'s Variety Store on Highway 11 just south of town is making blue-and-black cop-themed ribbon decorations, in honor of Bradford and local law enforcement in general, that are already festooning mailboxes around the county. JB's also designed a banner along the same lines. The ribbons are $6.50, the flags are $9.99, and profits from both will go to the Bradford fund. JB's co-owner Barbie Buffington Evans says people have been swarming in to get them for the past two days and she expects an even bigger crowd tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Maj. Bradford faces multiple surgeries but Seth Houts at the Bank of Dade said visitors from the bank had found him cheerful and playing impish jokes on his nurses at the hospital. "I think he's been keeping them on their toes," he said.
If you'd like to contribute directly to the Bradford account, you can do so in person, by mail at Bank of Dade, 12634 N. Main St., Trenton, GA 30752, electronically from the bank's website, bankofdade.com, or directly at this link: