Police Memorial Foundation auctions off Horses of Honor in fundraiser

SHARE Police Memorial Foundation auctions off Horses of Honor in fundraiser
SHARE Police Memorial Foundation auctions off Horses of Honor in fundraiser

When retired Chicago Police Sgt. Thomas Wortham III and his wife, Carolyn, had to take the stand to testify about the worst day of their lives, the courtroom was crowded.

Chicago Police officers and department supporters filled the room, rallied by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, said Sandra Wortham, the couple’s daughter.

The Wortham family was in court for the trial of two men who were later convicted of murdering their son, Police Officer Thomas Wortham IV, in a botched robbery in 2010.

The foundation “swoops in in your worst hour,” Sandra Wortham said. “It’s amazing, but really more.”

The Worthams lent their support to the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s latest fundraising effort Monday as the group kicked off the auction of its Horses of Honor.

Twenty painted fiberglass horses, each sponsored by a city business and honoring a specific fallen officer, have been posted on Michigan Avenue since July. They will be taken down Wednesday.

Some sponsors bought their horses, but the rest put the horses up for auction after a news conference at the Under Armour store on Michigan Avenue, where Wortham’s horse is stationed.

The horse honoring Wortham was sponsored by the band Chicago. The group attended Monday’s kickoff event and announced their $10,000 opening bid for that horse.

Five horses are up for auction in the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s eBay store, including the horse honoring Wortham, foundation project manager John Gordon said. Eight to 10 more horses could be put up for auction down the road.

The first phase of the project last fall involved the display and sale of 90 horses, Gordon said.

With the additional 20 horses on display this summer, the group expects to raise about $200,000. All proceeds will be used to support the families of fallen police officers and to buy bulletproof vests for officers who need them, foundation officials said.

Much of the money goes toward school tuition for the children of the fallen officers, Gordon said.

“We do all that we can to keep that sense of normalcy,” Gordon said.

Since 1988, 40 cops have been saved by their vests, former Police Supt. Phil Cline said. The foundation has given out 4,000 vests since September and hopes to give away 4,000 more, he said.

Officers receive one when they first join the force, Cline said, but they need to be replaced later at the officer’s own cost.

Robert Lamm, Chicago’s keyboardist and one of the band’s founding members, said many don’t realize officers “have their own turmoils.”

“It’s a thankless job. They still don’t get enough love,” Lamm said.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said the public needs to understand the sacrifice of families like the Worthams and remember them.

A third man charged with Wortham’s murder, Marcus Floyd, faces trial in October. Floyd was shot in the gun battle that erupted over Wortham’s motorcycle, and his attorneys claim he has “retrograde amnesia” from his injuries.

True to the foundation’s motto, McCarthy said, Wortham will never be forgotten.

“We will never have amnesia,” he said.

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