What an incredible evening was had by all who attended the 2022 Blue Family Christmas Gala at the Governor's Gun Club in Kennesaw on December 14th. Officers and their companions were treated to a beautiful formal event filled with music, gifts, a fabulous dinner, a huge silent auction, Father Christmas, dancing and even a live auction. Sponsors for this event included Governor's Gun Club, Tito's Vodka, Crane Elder Law Firm, Willis Family Chiropractic, Chris McEntire Heating and Air, The Stewart Team, Hello Fancy Media, West Cobb Family Dentistry, PeacePix, LLC, and a number of private individuals. Donations from over 100 businesses and individuals including Glock, The Atlanta History Center, The Fox Theater, Chick-Fil-A, Texas Roadhouse, The Atlanta Braves, Mac's Chophouse, and many many others made up the silent and live auctions held that evening. Nothing Bundt Cakes in Kennesaw donated beautiful and delicious "Bundlettes" for everyone, and the incredible group, "293 Band" outdid themselves with the music! If you missed this event, you really want to make sure you are a part of the next one. The date is set for December 13, 2023, and we are in early planning stages for the 2023 Blue Family Christmas Gala. Once again, we will be raising money to help officers in need during the holidays and information on who the 2023 officers will be for this program will be announced when we are closer to the holidays. This year, we sponsored five officers and were able to make a substantial contributions to each one, thanks to the success of the gala, and the generosity of our supporters. We simply cannot say "Thank you!" enough! So here's to everyone who made the 2022 Blue Family Christmas program and gala such a huge success, and wishing you a very happy, healthy and prosperous year! See you at the gala in December!
If you attended the 2022 Blue Family Christmas gala and are looking to find photos you took with Father Christmas, friends, loved ones or just yourself, click the button below! Each photo in the gallery can be reprinted from home, ordered in a variety of sizes and on a variety of papers, canvas or even gift items like mouse pads, tee-shirts and coffee mugs! You may also save the digital copy, share to social media straight from the page or even email! And any purchases of prints or other items with your photo booth images, will benefit Blue Thanksgiving, Inc.! Have fun and be sure to share! And for all the other photos taken at the event by guests, along with a video of the evening from one of our sponsors, Monica Farber and Hello Fancy Media, please visit back to this page soon, as more is yet to come!
The silent auction to benefit our five officers chosen for this year's Blue Family Christmas program is officially open for bidding! There are many incredible items available to bid on, and you're sure to find something for everyone on your Christmas list! To bid, you must register at qtego.net/qlink/bluethanksgiving and provide a cell phone, email and credit card. Your card will only be charged, if/when you are the highest bidder, after the auction has closed at 9:30pm on December 14, 2022. All bidding is done via computer or cell phone, and if you are outbid, you will receive a text alert notifying you, so that you have the option to bid again. Please remember that all won items MUST be collected between 9:30pm and 10:00 on December 14, 2022 at the Governor's Gun Club, located at 1005 Cobb Place Blvd, Kennesaw, GA 30144. Have fun and good luck!
In 2019 Blue Thanksgiving, Inc., heard about a deputy who had lost his wife to a long term illness. Additionally, he had lost his prematurely born child and a step son, and all within a year. Our hearts went out to this deputy and we felt we needed to do something to help. That was the beginning of our "Blue Family Christmas" program and was originally titled "A Church Family Christmas" after the deputy we sponsored. He and his surviving two young daughters were the recipients of an overwhelming show of support by this community and the following year we found ourselves helping another four law enforcement families. We have since named the program "Blue Family Christmas" and have helped numerous law enforcement officers and their families through the holidays, and beyond.
This year, we are honored to introduce our supporters to the families we have chosen to sponsor this year. Please consider a donation to help these heroes through the holidays while they are dealing with the challenges they face due to illness or injury. Please show your love and appreciation to these heroes:
Deputy Liam Stewart, Cobb County Sheriff's Office
Deputy Liam Stewart started his career with the Cobb County Sheriff's Office in 2002 as a Criminal Justice Specialist and converted to Deputy Sheriff in 2014. Deputy Stewart has worked within various capacities at the Detention Center and has excelled in each area. Most recently, he was an integral part of the Classification Unit.
Deputy Stewart has dealt with Asthma but other than that, has been a healthy, active guy. Early 2022, he began feeling tightness and pressure in his chest. He was finding it more and more difficult to breathe, He started working with his doctor to find the culprit. After months of doctors visits and tests, it was determined he had lung cancer.
On Oct. 27, 2022 he underwent surgery to remove the cancer. The entire lower right lobe was removed.
At his follow up on Nov.16, 2022, he was advised the cancer had spread from the inside of the lung and was branching up the back of the lung on the outside. He has been referred to an Oncologist for a continued treatment plan. He is currently out of work on FMLA. There is no timeline for return to work until he is able to meet with the Oncologist.
Deputy Stewart has kept his sense of humor and remains positive; in great spirits. He has said how much he appreciates everyone's thoughts and prayers.
Detective M.E. Barday, Cobb County Police Department
Detective Barday has served with the Cobb County Police Department since 2014 and is currently a member of the Criminal Investigations Unit at Precinct 3. He is married to Marilyn Barday and together they have a sweet son. In 2018 Detective Barday was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After a brief battle with cancer, he was able to return to full duty and resume normal life.
In 2021 Detective Barday suffered a major injury while off duty; he fell down a flight of stairs while holding his son and broke his leg in three places. Detective Barday’s son was uninjured due to his father protecting him with his own body. After two surgeries and some new titanium hardware Detective Barday again returned to full duty at CIU 3.
These major medical incidents both depleted Detective Barday’s accumulated sick leave levels, but he was able to slowly build them back by working on county holidays and using leave sparingly.
In 2022 just a few weeks after his four-year cancer free anniversary a routine CT scan found a new tumor in Detective Barday’s lymphatic system. Additional CT scans and a biopsy confirmed his cancer had returned and spread through his entire lymphatic system.
Detective Barday is currently undergoing an intense chemo program that requires 4-5 hours of daily treatment for an entire week at a time. His off weeks will be spent recovering from the treatments while still working to conserve his sick leave. This treatment will place a toll not only on his body but also his family’s finances as the medical bills accumulate.
Ray Collar, Chamblee Police Department
Roy Collar started his Law Enforcement career in June of 1998 with the Cobb County Police Department. He currently works for the City of Chamblee Police Department as a Lieutenant in charge of Special Operations.
At approximately 2330 hours, on October 31, 2022, Chamblee officers received a report of a stolen vehicle that had been carjacked and then involved in an armed robbery. Officers located the vehicle and attempted to block the vehicle, but were unsuccessful. A vehicle pursuit started with Officer Collar in the lead car at speeds exceeding 140 mph. After the suspects exited the interstate, they eventually lost control and wrecked the vehicle. Collar, who was only a few seconds behind, approached the suspect vehicle. As he did, the passenger opened fire on his patrol vehicle in an attempted ambush. The suspect fired seven rounds, hitting the patrol car four times. One of the rounds penetrated the windshield striking Officer Collar in the forehead.
Once he realized what was happening, he backed up for cover as other officers arrived. He was stabilized by responding officers and immediately rushed to Grady Hospital. He remained in ICU for four days with a skull fracture and two brain bleeds. Due to the injuries sustained, he is currently unable to return to work and will be out of work for an undetermined amount of time. He is currently receiving worker’s compensation, but that only covers 60% of his regular pay and he is not able to work any of the part time jobs he was doing which provided a financial cushion for the family, especially during Christmas time.
This was not the first time Officer Collar has been injured on the job. In June of 2022, while working the I-285 / GA 400 highway construction project, he was in his stationary patrol vehicle blocking an on ramp to GA 400 when he was struck by a suspected DUI driver at over 70 mph. Fortunately, on that occasion, he sustained relatively minor injuries and was able to return to work within a week.
Roy and his wife, Melissa, were married in July of 2008. Their family of four children includes three from prior marriages: Cade, age twenty, Bryce, also age twenty, Addyson, age eighteen, and Scotlynn, age twelve. Melissa is also a sworn LEO, working as an investigator for the Cobb County Solicitor’s Office, where she has been employed for many years.
Roy Collar is recovering from his injuries and is eager to return to work as soon as possible. He and his entire family are also very thankful for the second chance that God has been gracious enough to give to him.
Officer Andrew Siegel, Powder Springs Police Department
Officer Andrew Siegel is a newer officer who came to the Powder Springs Police Department by way of the Cobb County Sheriff's Office. He started in 2017 earning his basic jailer’s certification and working at the jail. In short time, he obtained his Basic Law Enforcement certification and went from the jail with Cobb County Sheriff’s Office to MCS (Marietta Cobb Smyrna) which is a joint drug / undercover task force. This position is typically reserved for high performing personnel, which Officer Siegel most certainly is. In this position, he developed several close friendships, one of which was with a Powder Springs Police Officer who was also tasked with this unit.
When Officer Siegel chose to enter into police work, he chose the Powder Springs Police Department, joining in May 2022. In his short time with Powder Springs PD, Officer Siegel has made a huge difference. In one instance, Officer Siegel responded to a person down in their yard. He arrived and found a man unresponsive with no pulse. He began administering CPR and brought the man back! EMS transported the male to the hospital with a pulse due to Officer Siegel’s work. But this isn’t where it stopped, Officer Siegel contacted the man’s family and updated them to what happened. He stayed in touch and even called the hospital numerous times to get an update on his condition. The male ended up making a full recovery. Officer Siegel was there every step of the way. Officer Siegel was given a commendation by Chief Caldwell for his life-saving response to this situation. This is the type of officer he is, not one to turn calls over to just go to the next, but to humanize each person and care for them as if he was responsible for their full recovery.
In August, Officer Siegel himself began experiencing medical issues involving his digestive system. After much prompting, he went to an Urgent Care and was immediately transferred to the hospital on September 24th. After a couple of days, he was released only to have to return days later for the same issue. In late October, he was again admitted to the hospital to await surgery that is scheduled for Friday, November 4th. The Doctors estimate that he will likely need to remain in the hospital until November 11. There is no estimated recovery time after this to return to work.
Officer Siegel has been out of work since September 24th and with such a short stint at the Powder Springs Police Department, he ran out of accrued leave time quickly. His fellow officers have donated sick leave which has given him a few weeks, but he is quickly running out. Officer Siegel lives alone. The department is trying to cover his time and to engage with him during this time, but help would be greatly appreciated. The road ahead is going to be a real struggle for some time.
Command Staff at Powder Springs Police have stated, "For an officer who went out of his way to check on a stranger until recovery was made, we are intent on not only checking on our brother but doing everything we can to take care of one of our own.".
Gary Marsicek, Cobb County Police Department
Officer Gary Marsicek has been a Staff Sergeant in the GA Army National Guard for eight years and after returning from Afghanistan, was called up in support of the Covid and riot missions in Atlanta, which was a turning point for Gary’s career. He decided to pursue becoming a police officer, and joined the Cobb County Police Department in December 2020. On Sunday, just after midnight on October 2, 2022, Officer Marsicek was arresting a driver on I-75 North, when he was struck by a drunk driver, in spite of the fact, both officers on the scene had their marked patrol vehicles illuminated with flashing blue lights on the shoulder of the highway. Officer Marsicek was making sure the driver was secured in the back seat of one of the patrol vehicles when a 2021 Honda Accord struck one police vehicle and then kept driving, striking the second. Marsicek was pinned between the second vehicle and a guardrail.
Officer Marsicek was rushed to Kennestone’s trauma unit where he received emergency surgery due to a blocked femoral artery. He spent four consecutive nights at the hospital before returning a couple days later due to more injury complications. Gary now requires 24-hour care. Almost all of his injuries deal with his low extremities and he is unable to walk without assistance unless it is a very short distance. He has nerve damage, a large hematoma, road rash, lacerations, bone bruising, swelling, severe bruising, and a possible fractured knee. Due to the swelling, it is hard to tell what other injuries Gary will be dealing with in the future.
Gary and his new wife, Amanda had recently purchased a home together, but had to move in with her parents in Roswell so he could receive the 24 hour care he required.
At this time, Officer Marsicek's return to work and the length of time he will need for recovery is unknown. Blue Thanksgiving is asking for the support of this community, as Gary and Amanda work through the struggles they will undoubtedly face as he works toward his recovery and return to work.
*NOTE: If you would like to bid on our silent auction to benefit these officers, please visit https://qtego.net/qlink/bluethanksgiving. The bidding is open and you must register with a cell phone number and credit card to bid. All won items must be picked up at the Governor's Gun Club in Kennesaw GA on December 14 between 9:30 and 10:00PM. This auction closes at 9:30PM on December 14. Don't miss out, we have some incredible items in this auction! For more information please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck and thank you!
As we wrap up another Thanksgiving Day, we would like to extend a heartfelt "thank you" to everyone who made this year once again possible. Just to name a few: Publix Stores donated not only all the desserts and breads we needed, but a grant to help cover the cost of other groceries we purchased. Cobb EMC Community Foundation provided funding, as did Greystone Power, and a number of private donors. Additionally, Paul's Pot Pies in Kennesaw opened their commercial kitchen space so that volunteers could make the cold trays that were delivered to our officers working later in the day after the hot meals had been consumed by the day shifts. Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Marietta has once again provided the incredible space and kitchen facilities where deliveries were staged, hot meals prepared, and volunteers picking up were able to drive up and collect their supplies and meals to deliver to all our 911, Police, Sheriff's Deputies and their admin working on Thanksgiving Day. The wonderful folks over at Major Q's BBQ provided smoked turkeys as they have done every year for the past 7 years running! We had approximately 40 volunteers who came in from as far away as Loganville and Fayetteville to help deliver to our heroes all over Cobb County and beyond. Yesterday we served Cobb 911, Sheriff's Deputies at the jail and courthouse, their admin at the courthouse, all five Cobb precincts, Acworth, Kennesaw, Smyrna, Powder Springs, Austell, and Marietta police departments, their admin and 911 staff. We sent out about 360 hot meals and another 150 cold meals as well as dinners for the volunteers who gave up time with their families to work with us. Finally, we would like to thank Nancy Grace for bringing attention to our small nonprofit and the work we are doing by promoting us on her social media and bringing her family to help make the delivery to Marietta Police on Thanksgiving Day. Denise Dillon with Fox 5 Atlanta has also been a huge supporter and brought her family in to help make the delivery to Cobb Police Precinct 1, and did a news story about our Blue Family Christmas project, and the officers we are helping.
And now, with Thanksgiving behind us, we are turning our focus to the (now FIVE) law enforcement officers we are helping this holiday season who are facing financial hardships due to illness or injury and are unable to work. Please join with us in supporting these heroes through our "Blue Family Christmas" Campaign. When we needed them, they have been there. And now that they need us, we are asking you to be there for them. Please read more about these officers in our next "What's Happening" post.
Happy Thanksgiving and once again, Thank you!
Every year Blue Thanksgiving, Inc., returns to our roots providing meals to all the on-duty law enforcement officers throughout Cobb County. This year will mark our eighth year and we are grateful to the community for enabling us to continue this project, and the many others we have throughout the year, with both financial and in-kind donations, as well as countless hours of volunteer time. While most of us will be at home with our families on Thanksgiving Day, gathered at the dinner table with the ones we love, or watching football games in the comfort of our homes, the men and women who serve and protect us will be on duty ensuring that we are safe during the holiday. This year Blue Thanksgiving will have approximately 35 volunteers giving of their time to help prepare and deliver meals to 15 locations around Cobb County. We expect to provide over 400 hot and cold menu meals as well as beverages and desserts to on-duty officers and 911 operators all over Cobb County and even beyond. This will be the largest Thanksgiving Day effort ever for Blue Thanksgiving,
As so many other businesses and families are experiencing, the cost of providing these meals is higher than ever, while our donations, particularly from individuals, have been less than in years past. We are mindful that many families in our community are facing their own financial stress as a result of the economy, so we are asking everyone who supports our local law enforcement officers to consider making a donation of any size you can afford to help fund this important project. Blue Thanksgiving is entirely volunteer-run allowing us to make the most of every dollar we receive. With your help, we are confident that at the end of the day, when we deliver the last meal to an officer serving his or her community on this holiday, we will be both proud of the work of our volunteers and thankful for our dedicated officers, volunteers and supporters. We wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!
As any visitor to this site undoubtedly knows, Cobb County lost two heroes on September 8th, 2o22, who were killed in the line of duty. We join the many individuals and organizations who are mourning the deaths of Deputy Jonathan Koleski and Deputy Marshall Ervin. These men answered the call of duty and paid for it with their lives in what can best be described as a senseless tragedy.
At the same time, we are gratified by the outpouring of support from not only our local community, but others throughout the Metro Atlanta area and beyond. It is our sincere hope that the sacrifice of these two officers serves as a reminder, if one is needed, of what each and every law enforcement officer risks every time they go to work to keep us safe and secure in our own lives.
We wish to express our appreciation to Chik-fil-A (Cobb Parkway-Acworth, Barrett Parkway- Kennesaw, and East Cobb), Zaxby's (S, Marietta Parkway), the Marietta Diner, and Publix grocery stores (Dallas Highway and Jiles Rd - Kennesaw) for providing much of the food that was served to the officers, family members, and other mourners. We also want to thank our own supporters whose contributions of money and time allow Blue Thanksgiving to supplement the in-kind donations of these and other generous sponsors. We could not do what we do without the support of the community at large.
Deputy Marshal Ervin and Deputy Jonathan Koleski, End of watch: September 8, 2022.
As the month of August draws to a close and we see the approach of Labor Day weekend upon us, we are reminded that within just a few shorts weeks we will be officially into the holiday season! And that means BTI will once again be preparing to deliver hot Thanksgiving Day meals to officers on duty Thanksgiving Day. As we all know, this year has been a challenge to many financially. It seems that prices are higher on things we have taken for granted over the years past and or have become near impossible to even find. Feeding these officers on Thanksgiving Day will cost more this year than ever before. We are relying heavily on the support of donors and businesses who wish to sponsor our Thanksgiving Day campaign. If you would like to know more about how you can help with a donation, a sponsorship or even volunteering, please visit our "Join Us" page or drop us a message to email@example.com. Tax deductible donations can be made with a credit card right here on our website if you will go to the "donate" page! We thank everyone for all the years of continued support and we ask that the community continue to pray for our officers and deputies, and the next time you see one of them, tell them "Thank you!". And now, let our family at BTI be the first to wish your family a very happy holiday season!
We are proud of the board members we have been blessed to have representing Blue Thanksgiving, Inc., and when something wonderful happens we couldn't be happier!
This month we were honored to welcome a new Treasurer to our Executive Board. Chris Lydle comes to us as a retired business owner who spent the majority of his adult life in the camera and photography industry. Chris and his wife Thelma retired to Marietta in 2019 and quickly became involved in the community. Chris and Thelma enjoy world cruising and when home, spending time with their children and grandchildren. We welcome Chris and are grateful to have him on our team.
We wish to congratulate board member, Chief Tim Cox on his retirement from the Cobb County Police Department, He and his wife Jenny, who also serves on our board of directors, enjoy traveling, spending time with family, and doing for the officers with whom they continue to have a special bond.
Finally, we are thrilled to congratulate fellow board member, Steve Kucynda on his promotion to Deputy Chief with the Cobb County Police Department. This is a well earned promotion and we couldn't be happier for him, Jenny and their family.
Please join us in welcoming Chris and congratulating Chief Cox and Deputy Chief Kucynda the next time you see them!
Blue Thanksgiving's Law Enforcement Appreciation Cookout in May was a great success with approximately 75 officers from multiple agencies and precincts in Cobb County stopping by to grab lunch at Cobb PD precinct one. Our board of directors and volunteers braved the morning rain to man the grill and prepare to serve our officers. Our team set up, and served food including grilled burgers, brats and hot dogs, and greeted officers! The amazing folks over at Publix located on Cobb Parkway and Jiles Road in Kennesaw, made donations of burgers and dogs, buns and desserts to help feed the many who came. Before officers began arriving, the rain moved on and a wonderful time was had by all! Many thanks to everyone who came out to help, and to the officers who joined us for lunch and some networking with their brothers and sisters in blue.
We're already planning for our next cook out event!