Hundreds attend fundraiser for sergeant’s familyJul 28, 2017 01:08PM ● By Travis Barton
Police Chief Lee Russo falls into the dunk tank during a fundraiser for Sergeant Todd Gray and his family. People could pay to try and dunk the chief. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
For over 25 years, Sergeant Todd Gray has been involved with law enforcement, using his remarkable memory to connect clues to catch criminals. He helps solve cases providing intelligence not only to his agency, West Valley City Police, but to others around the valley.
But on Saturday, July 8, those agencies returned the favor.
Organized by the West Valley City Fraternal Order of Police, a fundraiser was held for Todd and his family with 100 percent of proceeds going to the family. Todd’s wife has battled severe medical issues for the last year and a half.
“I never imagined anything like this, I am just overwhelmed,” Todd said of the event. “I don’t even know what to say, I’ll be forever grateful.”
Hundreds showed up to a fundraiser that included a barbecue, bounce house, a raffle, silent auction and a dunk tank where senior WVCPD staff, including Chief Lee Russo, were dropped into the water.
“Who doesn’t want dunk their boss at some point?” Russo laughed before later adding, “We want to show our troops that we do care about them as individuals and any little thing we can do to support that, we’ll do.”
Law enforcement, firefighters, city councilmembers and community members came to support Todd and his family. And they weren’t only from West Valley City. Unified Police from Taylorsville and Midvale were on hand along with retirees and officers from various agencies.
“This is a family we care about and when one of us is in trouble we do what we can to support one another,” Russo said.
Todd’s father, Wally Gray—a retired lieutenant from the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office and UPD—said he was proud to see how well respected his son is across the valley.
“The show of support has just been fantastic. I thought there might be a bit of a crowd but this is huge,” Wally said.
About two months ago, an officer who works for Todd approached the WVC FOP about putting a fundraiser together. Sean McCarthy, a sergeant with WVCPD and president of the WVC FOP lodge, said it was a no-brainer.
“We just decided absolutely, we can do this,” he said.
With the help of sponsors—such as Franklin Covey donating their cafeteria and kitchen and Big Johnson’s BBQ lending an industrial-sized smoker—McCarthy said they were able to keep costs down.
“Because of those partnerships we can give 100 percent of everything to Todd,” McCarthy said.
Sponsors also helped them collect the raffle and auction items that included a custom Rock River Arms AR-15, a smoker from Traeger Grills, an Invicta watch, USANA concert tickets and Utah Grizzly tickets.
McCarthy said that’s the purpose behind the FOP, to take care of each other, which in this case were mounting medical bills.
“I hope (this) shows people that we’re just here to help. We would do this for a firefighter, we’d do this for a family if they asked us,” he said. “That’s the whole premise behind the FOP organization is just to help those within the city, agency and the community.”
Todd’s daughter, Madison, said the event left her speechless.
“I’m just surprised that all the officers are here…that the FOP gathered together and made this fundraiser for our family so I’m really grateful,” she said.
Some people came who Todd hadn’t seen for several years. With the reputation Todd has developed during his career, it may came as no surprise.
Known for his Rolodex-like mind and youthful energy, Todd has worked with various agencies over the years, whether in the gang unit or tracking down fugitives.
His passion for law enforcement started at a young age when he would listen to a police scanner and get to the scene before the police.
Wally said Todd has “a talent” where he remembers everything from plate numbers and stolen vehicles to the addresses of known criminals and their associates.
“It’s just a gift he’s got…It’s really paid off for him, he’s very successful at his job,” he said.
One Unified Police Chief described Todd’s mind as an “encyclopedia” and that Todd was one of maybe five or six officers he knows with that kind of ability. The chief added if “you’re a fugitive and you have Todd tracking you, you better already be out of the country because he’ll catch you.”
With Todd’s enthusiasm for the job, Russo said it’s a difficult situation for Todd when something like this is slowing him down.
“It’s a great reminder for everybody what really is important,” he said.
Jim Crowley, Utah National trustee for the FOP, said everyone is hoping for the best. “We want him to know that we love him and support him.”
Todd said he was grateful to all.
“I am so humbled, I’m just speechless. I never dreamed driving here that this would be like this at all, and I just don’t know what to say,” he said. “I’ve helped some other officers and their families over the years, it’s difficult to be on the other end and I’ve never seen it to this degree. I cannot believe this.”