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 email@example.com. Good luck and thank you!