THE SHOALS, Ala. — When you drive through the Quad Cities, Sheffield, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, and Florence, you continue to see blue ribbons and balloons in memory of Sergeant Nick Risner.
The community isn’t just displaying signs of their appreciation, however, they’re also putting it into action to support the family he leaves behind.
Risner was an avid fitness enthusiast and visited Crunch Fitness in Florence at least five days a week.
Assistant manager Hannah Hayes said the gym is accepting donations for the family.
“Members can just come by, or anybody can come by,” Hayes said. “You don’t have to be a member; just drop on by the front desk, any of our staff will be able to help you.”
In Muscle Shoals, high school principal Kevin Davis said School Resource Officer Gerald Smith came up with the idea for students to raise money by participating in a “hat day” this Friday.
“Currently, our students are not permitted to wear caps or hats or anything like that during school hours,” Davis said.
However, on a hat day, they can be worn if the student donates a dollar for a charitable cause, in this case, to support the Risner family.
“This hit very close to home last week; It’s just like it came out of nowhere,” Davis added. “We’re very proud of the SROs we got here and we know they lay their life on the line just like the other police officers around this area, and just seeing one put his life out there to protect all of us means a whole lot to me and the faculty here and the students here as well.”
Vertillo Pizza in Sheffield, the same business which hosted a vigil for Sergeant Risner on Saturday, is accepting donations and partnering with Alabama Super Pawn to hold a raffle.
“It should be given away sometime Friday afternoon,” Vertillo Pizza Manager Patty Woodruff said. “We are taking donations; it’s a five-dollar donation. It shows that everybody is coming together. It seems like sometimes times have been divided with law enforcement and that hurts, but we have always taken a stand here.”
In just the past few days, Vertillo Pizza has raised nearly $5,000 for the Risner family.
On Facebook, there is a public group called “In Memory Sgt Nick Risner.” Anyone can join and see the many fundraisers that are happening across the area for the Risner family.