Pat Ellis started Cops With Cancer to help make sure Greg Duffin’s dream to support his fellow police officers fighting the disease became a reality.
Ellis, a city of Kent crisis intervention coordinator and chaplain for the police and fire departments, sat down at a table sandwiched between a 1932 Ford Roadster and a classic Harley-Davidson in the showroom at the Kent Performance Auto Center to discuss the endeavor. The center will host the Second Annual Greg Duffin Car and Motorcycle Show July 31, a fundraiser for Cops With Cancer, a Kent-based nonprofit set up to support officers struck by cancer.
“Greg’s dream was to help other cops dealing with cancer,” Ellis said. “A lot of cops who are diagnosed with cancer need help not only emotionally but financially. This is a continuation of his dream to the next step.”
Duffin, 41, died in September 2007 after a six-year fight against kidney cancer. He worked 12 years as a Kent Police officer and restored cars as a hobby.
Throughout his ailment, Duffin and Ellis often would discuss how police officers struck with cancer could use a special support group.
“Officers are trained to be in control and when they are fighting a disease that they don’t have control over, it makes it difficult,” Ellis said.
Duffin invited Ellis, as the police chaplain, to an informal support group several years ago of about eight police officers in the Seattle area with cancer.
“He asked me to be there for support,” Ellis said. “I was the only one there without cancer and when they told their stories it was overwhelming.”
Cops With Cancer will start small and mainly support officers in Kent and surrounding areas. The nonprofit is currently assisting a couple of officers, Ellis said, but organizers hope to expand the program as word spreads about its services.
The nonprofit group will distribute funds based on need. Those needs could include financial assistance for medications, as well as for overnight expenses for an officer’s family if he or she needs to travel for medical care.
Fellow Kent Police officers organized a car show in the summer of 2007 to benefit Duffin and his family. Several officers even restored a 1941 Plymouth Coupe owned by Duffin to appear at the show.
Bob Duffin, Greg’s father and a retired Washington State Patrol trooper, will bring the Plymouth coupe over from Moses Lake to appear at this year’s show.
“Greg was a hot rod guy,” Ellis said. “And when he was an officer, he helped combat street racing by taking kids up to Pacific Raceways.”
That’s the reason the show serves as a fundraiser as well as a memorial to Duffin.
“He was not only a good cop, but a good man,” Ellis said.
Kent Police officer Hans Mak stepped up to organize the classic car and motorcycle show.
“Greg was a close friend and I was involved in the first car show we put on,” Mak said about the reason he decided to help. “The Kent Performance Center can hold up to 350 to 400 cars so that’s our goal. I’ve gotten a lot of calls about people coming. We expect a ton of people.”
Owners of classic cars and motorcycles must pay a $20 registration fee to enter the competition for trophies. T-shirts also will be sold to raise money.
Doug Greenfield, co-owner with Dave Holzboog of the Kent Performance Auto Center, said he has known Mak for more than 15 years and agreed to help out his friend with free use of the center for the fundraiser.
“I’m not really into car shows but when I heard the money would go to Cops With Cancer that’s a fine deal,” Greenfield said. “We want to help out with events in the city.”
Greenfield said they were still looking for a company to donate a street sweeper to clean the parking lot the day before the car show, but otherwise everything was ready to go.
Ellis expects the car show, which also will include food vendors and musical entertainment, to be quite the community event.
“Just come and see the cars and enjoy the day,” Ellis said. “It should be a fun day.”
If you go
What: 2nd Annual Greg Duffin Car and Motorcycle Show
When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 31
Where: Kent Performance Auto Center, 619 Washington Avenue North
Cost: Free to view, $20 to register car or motorcycle