Organization helps families of slain officers

Rock Hill Police Officer John Rainier and his wife, Melanie, wanted to find a way that they could help the families of slain officers Jeff Shelton and Sean Clark.

They formed Forever Blue, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raise money for fallen law enforcers.

On Saturday at the Manchester Plaza, Forever Blue will host a fundraiser. The event will kick off at 10:30 a.m. with a motorcycle ride 28 miles from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department to Manchester Plaza and will end at 3 p.m.

The Rainiers say they have been offered a lot of assistance.

"The fundraiser has taken on a life of its own," said Melanie. "People just keep offering to help."

There are more than 60 corporate sponsors, including Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Outback Steakhouse, Best Buy and Harley-Davidson.

Proceeds will be split, said John. They have no goal except to help the families any way they can.

"It's all good, man," John said. "If we only raise a dollar, then it's fifty cents more than what the Shelton and Clark family had."

The cause for action

John, Melanie, and their two children were on their way home from a vacation when they got the call about the sad news. When they got home, their phone mailbox was bombarded with voice mails, telling them what they already knew: Jeff Shelton was killed along with another officer.

John Rainier and Shelton met when both were rookies at the police academy and had been close friends ever since. Rainier was Shelton's best man at his wedding.

The Rainiers knew that they had to help. But they had to cope first.

"The funeral was obstacle No. 1," Melanie said. "We had to get past that first."

John said that the thought to conduct a fundraiser was initiated the day after he received the news. Phone calls were soon made.

WBT Radio host Jeff Katz will be the host as well as promote the event on his radio show and Web site.

"The murder of Jeff and Sean is a tragedy, of course," Katz said through an e-mail. "But their murders have also served to raise community awareness of the dangers of police work and the sacrifices that officers and their families are called upon to make."

The Rainiers also have received help from fellow officers and friends.

"This is by no means a dual effort," said John.