MCLEAN, Va. – It was a downright cold for a motorcycle ride and a long ride at that on Saturday. But that didn’t stop friends and colleagues of a U.S. Park Police officer, who suffered a life changing injury while on duty nearly two years ago.
Early Saturday morning, a crowd of other U.S. Park Police officers and supporters gathered for the 120-mile Polar Bear Poker Run. The motorcycle ride benefited Officer Billy Brancato, who was kicked in the stomach while trying to arrest a suspect, severely damaging his pancreas, in January 2012.
“He’s impacted for the rest of his life. Quite possibly it’s a near fatal condition,” U.S. Park Police Officer Tim Hodge says. “We’re looking to raise some money and basically do the right thing. It’s just the kind of person I am and that’s the kind of person Billy Brancato is.”
The starting point for the fundraiser was at the U.S. Park Police District Two headquarters along the George Washington Parkway in McLean.
U.S. Park Police Captain Michael Libby said with a heavy heart, “He’s hurting, his family’s hurting. Only so much you can do and you do everything you can.”
Officer Hodge provided an autographed Redskins Pierre Garcon jersey to be auctioned off after the ride.
“We just pray, hope and give the best to his family and hope he pulls through,” he says.
Fellow officer Tom Twiname says, “He’s not out of the woods health wise, but we just got to let him know he’s not forgotten.”
A website has been set up to make donations to Officer Brancato and his family. Half of all donations will be given to Concerns of Police Survivors: COPS, a group that helps families of fallen police officers.