CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - A fundraiser was held Friday for East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office Deputy Nick Tullier, who was shot in an ambush attack on police back in July of 2016.
A lunch benefit was held to help pay for Tullier's ongoing medical expenses as he continues his recovery in Texas is being held Friday at the Oak Point Shopping Center in Central, which is located at 14485 Greenwell Springs Rd.
It all started with one man deciding he wanted to help Deputy Tullier financially. He had hoped to sell about 500 plates. Instead, he quadrupled that amount of sales.
Roasted chicken, Cajun potatoes, and green beans were on the menu, but they ran out of chicken just 30 minutes after the fundraiser got under way.
All of this came about thanks to Stephen Ashford. "We saw the news about Nick and the insurance and some of the difficulties he was dealing with financially over there and we just said, 'Hey, let's get together and make a couple of dinners and sell it,'" said Ashford.
Tullier's father, James Tullier, has been posting recently about the family's struggles with Nick's ongoing medical costs.
But those couple of dinners Ashford hoped to sell turned into thousands of plates. Ashford and many volunteers he doesn't even know showed up in Central well before daybreak. The donations for Deputy Tullier started pouring in.
"Before we even lit the BBQ pit, people giving us $20, giving us $5, giving us $10. 'You coming back to eat?' 'No, I just want to give you this,'" said Ashford.
The volunteers included fallen BRPD Officer Matthew Gerald's wife, Dechia, who was delivering plates, and fallen EBRSO Deputy Brad Garafola's wife, Tonja. "I know how important it is to have these fundraisers for these families," said Garafola.
"It's a family that's in need in our community and I'm doing my part to step up and help the Tullier family," said former BRPD Chief Carl Dabadie.
Many people stood in a long line to donate to the cause, just to do their part. "Trying to help out Nick. I'm retired from EBRSO and it's the least I could do," said John Ard.
"Very long line, but it's for a great cause," said Oscar Williams.
"Been praying. This is wonderful, wonderful," said Linda Cox.
Some people who attended the fundraiser do actually know Nick. Many, however, were complete strangers, saying they feel like they know Nick because of all he's been through.
From buying plates, to coffee mugs, and t-shirts, all the money raised is going straight to the Tullier family. Despite it being a fundraiser, all the volunteers felt like it was also a chance to give back to their own community. "It's so much better to give than to receive. We get so much out of this than just doing it," said Ashford.
"It's love. It's nothing but love and respect. People do love the police," said Garafola.
It's a love with a higher power watching over Nick's every move. "Nick's special. He's a miracle and you know, that's what people need to realize, a miracle," said Cox.
In total, 2,200 plates were sold and nearly $25,000 was raised.