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By Wendy Ruderman
Philadelphia Daily News

PHILADELPHIA - Last November, somber-faced officers saluted as pallbearers carried the bronze coffin of Officer Chuck Cassidy to a hearse paid for with money from the Fraternal Order of Police Survivors' Fund.
Six months later, at the May funeral of Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, thousands of mourners were shielded from a chilly, wind-driven rain by tents paid for by the same fund.
In September, the FOP again tapped into the fund to send about a dozen family and friends of Officer Isabel Nazario to Puerto Rico for her burial.
And, most recently, the fund picked up the cost of a reception held after the funeral of Sgt. Patrick McDonald.
In less than a year's time, four officers were killed in the line of duty. And the fund that provides something of a lifeline to the families of slain officers is struggling to keep pace with a once-unimaginable number of cop-killings. With each officer's death, the fund covered about $40,000 worth of funeral costs, said FOP Treasurer John Ruane.
"The fund was designed to pay for a funeral every few years, if needed," said FOP Treasurer John Ruane. "We never expected to have four funerals in 10 months."
Today, in an effort to bolster the fund, dozens of area restaurants, bars and businesses will donate 10 percent of their sales toward the Survivors' Fund in an event dubbed "Philadelphia Blue Day."
In addition, roughly 20,000 students at nearly 80 city Catholic schools will be able to donate $1 or more to the fund and dress down for the day.
The fundraiser is being organized by Narberth resident Jennifer Fox, who devised the idea for Philadelphia Blue Day on the day that McDonald was gunned down by a wanted convicted felon.
On that day, Fox was scheduled to present a $1,500 check to the FOP. The donation grew out of proceeds from Brave Spirits, a local company that donates $2 from every bottle of Brave Spirits liquor to charities that support firefighters, police officers and military personnel. Fox, 37, co-founded Brave Spirits with her husband, David Fox, and his friend Powell Arms.
When news of McDonald's death spread, Fox said that she quickly agreed to cancel the check-presentation ceremony and drove to the FOP's headquarters on Spring Garden Street near Broad with her 10-year-old son to drop off the donation.
"To see the look on their faces was gut-wrenching," Fox recalled. "It really made an impact on me. When we got back in the car, my son said, 'Mom, they looked so sad.' I talked to my husband and we kept saying that we needed to do something more."
Fox said she hopes Philadelphia Blue Day will raise about $50,000 toward the Survivors' Fund.
The fund, which recently contained only about $1,000, covers much more than funeral expenses, according to the FOP.
"It also pays for things that families may need throughout the years to come," Ruane said. "We pick up everything and anything that a surviving family might need that's within reason."
The fund also helps officers who've been severely injured on the job. In 2004, for example, the fund paid for a $45,000 handicapped-accessible van for Officer John Marynowitz, who was paralyzed after a teenage drug-dealer shot him in the head and shoulder in 1993. Marynowitz's partner, Officer Robert Hayes, was killed.
Before the FOP purchased the van, Marynowitz struggled to get beyond the confines of his home. The biggest hurdle, recalled his wife, Mindy, was helping her wheelchair-bound husband in and out of the family car.
"The van was a godsend," Mindy Marynowitz said last week. "It was a life-altering thing."

For a list of participating eateries and other businesses, log on to www. philadelphiablueday.com.

Wire Service
 
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