Wilton PD, first responders shave heads in support of fellow officer diagnosed with breast cancer

WILTON — On Thursday behind the police headquarters, the brooms and dustpans were brought out to collect piles of hair from a number of police officers, firefighters and Highway Department members.

Far from a random impromptu haircut, many of the town’s first responders chose to shave their heads to stand in solidarity with one of their own — Wilton Police School Resource Officer Elise Ackerman — who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Several weeks ago, she learned that she had an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer,” David Hartman, Wilton police officer and president of the Police Benevolent Association, said Saturday. “I had the idea in my head to shave my head to show solidarity and then I was approached by a bunch of other officers who said that they were interested in shaving their head to show solidarity with her so she didn’t feel singled out.”

On Wednesday, the decision was made that the following day, all who volunteered to shave their head would meet behind the station.

So the clippers came out and so did many municipal workers to show their support for Ackerman, including colleagues from the police, fire department, Highway Department and even from Town Hall. First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice was also in attendance to wish Ackerman well.

“That means a lot to the officers,” Hartman said of the support from the first selectwoman. “That goes a long way.”

In all, more than a dozen police officers shaved their heads, as well as five members of the fire department and two from the Highway Department.

Hartman said it is the focus of the PBA to help its officers in need.

“She brought it to my attention and as a police department we try to help each other out. It’s like a second family,” Hartman said.

The next step, Hartman said, was setting up a GoFundMe page to aid Ackerman in her journey through treatment, surgery and recovery.

“Within two weeks of her being diagnosed, she immediately started treatment,” Hartman said. He said Ackerman has weeks of treatment ahead of her, followed by surgery and then more treatment, so he and the department are pushing for her to receive as much support as possible.

As of Saturday, the GoFundMe has raised $21,275 of its $50,000 goal.

Hartman said the PBA is putting together a design for a t-shirt to sell with all proceeds going towards the final pot for Ackerman. Those shirts will be put on sale within the next week.

Continuing in the department’s support for Ackerman, Hartman said that a fundraiser is in the works for Feb. 11 at Tashua Knolls in Trumbull. Tickets will be sold to the event that will offer dinner, hors d'oeuvres, silent auctions and entertainment.

“We want her to know that we have her back and that she is not alone in this fight,” Hartman said. “We are going to fight it with her.”