Ofc. Wagstaff attends Fraternal Order of Police fundraiser

For the second year, the Fraternal Order of Police hosted a bowling event to raise money for first responders.  Last year, it was to benefit officer Tom Wagstaff.  On Saturday, he was there in person to experience it.

The rules in bowling are simple: knock down all the pins.  If one pin takes a hit, the others still stand, though possibly not as strong as before.

It's true in law enforcement too.  Officers still stand together, even when there are fewer of them.

"We're a special family," Brad Lemon, President of Kansas City's Fraternal Order of Police, said. "It's not what we do for a living, but it's what we are."

That's why Saturday's event -- a fundraiser for law enforcement -- struck a chord in so many.

"It really is one of those great events where we get to spend time with each other and for the community to realize we're just like they are," Lemon said.

Park Lanes in Shawnee was full and loud and celebratory; so was the man who was the heart of this event last year.

"It feels great to be back," said Ofc. Tom Wagstaff.

"I'm very honored," he continued. "Very honored to be here, and know that I'm going to help other officers, other first responders."

The Independence officer was shot in the line of duty in 2017. He spent months recovering out of state. And in just minutes, he recovered his love for bowling.

In his first time up, he bowled a strike.

"I hope that my story is an inspiration to other first responders," said Wagstaff. "I want to be able to help like that.  I would just give them the advice that no matter how bad you're feeling, it's going to get better, it will get better. It takes time, but it will get better."

Wagstaff says he knows he wouldn't be here now if it wasn't for the community's support. That community support is now going to Clinton.

"We're just out here to have a good time and raise some money for those officers in Clinton," said Kelly Travis as she bowled with members of the Kansas City Police Traffic Division. "Bowling strikes, or gutter balls, or whatever it takes."

Because no matter how many times the pins get knocked down, it`s about getting back up.

"With support of your family, your friends, of the community, of everyone," added Wagstaff. "It's not a sprint, it's a marathon.  It may take time, but it will get better."

The event raised $35,000.  The money will be split between Officer Ryan Morton's family, the Clinton police officers who were injured when Officer Morton was killed (Officer Kaspar and Officer Bettencourt), and the Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police Memorial Fund.