LPSO deputies remembered via bike tour

Hilda Wroblewski
November 24, 2010
Catalina Twiner
November 26, 2010
Hilda Wroblewski
November 24, 2010
Catalina Twiner
November 26, 2010

Students at Lafourche Parish schools traded donations for denim last week at eight schools in an effort to support Team Blue Lafourche’s ride in the Police Unity Tour, a nearly 300-mile bicycle ride to honor law officers who died in the line of duty.

Students at South Lafourche High, Central Lafourche High, Raceland Upper Elementary and Middle, East Thibodaux Middle, West Thibodaux Middle, Larose-Cut Off Middle and Bayou Blue Elementary schools were given permission to wear jeans with a dollar donation in a fundraiser orchestrated by the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office.

More schools may participate in the near future, but the eight schools to already have their “Jean Day” raised $2,531 in $1 donations for Team Blue Lafourche, who will bicycle from Virginia to the nation’s Capitol in May.

“It’s very inspiring to see the kids taking part,” Lt. John Champagne of the Narcotics division said. And the kids understand the reasoning behind what we’re doing.”

Champagne, a 13-year veteran of LPSO, said he rides in the Police Unity Tour not only in memory of his brother Chaney, who was killed in a car accident while responding to a call in 2003, but for fallen officers nationwide.

Champagne first participated in the Police Unity Tour in 2009.

“I ride for Chaney and also for the other deputies,” he said. “It was an awesome experience because you get to see the support for law enforcement and the respect people have for what we do.”

Kurt “Woody” Harrelson was in the patrol unit with Chaney in 2003, and was also killed. Emily Law, Harrelson’s sister-in-law and a member of the Bayou Blue Elementary faculty said she believes the students can learn about the sacrifices law officers make in order to protect them.

“This is a great thing that they are doing, teaching kids that people make sacrifices to do good things for them. It means a lot,” Law said Friday after the kids showed off their jeans to LPSO cameras during a fire drill.

Martha Woods-Shareef was the Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer at Bayou Blue Elementary. She was run over by a vehicle and killed in 2008 while investigating a burglary.

Roxanne Savoie, a Title I interventionist at Bayou Blue, knew Woods-Shareef before the two began working at the same school.

“She was a kind-hearted person, and she’d go out of her way for anyone. She loved the children. Her eyes would twinkle when it came to the kids.

“I think it went well, and as you can tell, we had a lot of students with jeans on. They all loved her.”

Ann Danos, in her first year as principal of West Thibodaux Middle, said her school raised approximately $300 in donations.

West Thibodaux students gathered in the courtyard at 2 p.m. Thursday and released hundreds of balloons in recognition of officers nationwide who died in the line of duty. Five white balloons were included in memory of Champagne, Harrelson, Woods-Shareef and Thomas Proctor of the sheriff’s office and Keith Chiasson of the Thibodaux Police Department.

Seventh-grader Bobby Sewire said he was happy to show his appreciation for the fallen officers.

“It was a good moment and I felt good about seeing the balloons go,” Bobby, 12, said. “It was perfect.”

LPSO is selling $10 tickets for a Dec. 20 raffle. The first prize is $500, second is a Benelli 12-gauge camouflaged pump shotgun and third prize is a $100 gift card at Walmart.

For more information on the raffle or how to help Team Blue Lafourche, contact Sgt. Lesley Hill at (985) 532-4338.

Students at West Thibodaux Middle School release hundreds of balloons into the air in recognition to police officers across the country who have lost their lives in the line of duty. ERIC BESSON