Wilton PBA donates $24K in Sgt. Tunney’s memory

The Wilton Police Benevolent Association (PBA) made a $23,801.52 donation from the TJ Tunney Memorial Fund to Connecticut Hospice outside Wilton Police headquarters June 27.

“Although he always had a story to share, he was, for all intents and purposes, a very proud man, and a very private person when it came to certain things,” said Sgt. David Hartman, president of the Wilton PBA.

“He would never ask for help, and the status of his cancer diagnosis was one of those private issues that he never asked for help with,” Hartman said. “That is why in early December 2015, when Lt. Rob Cipolla received a phone call from TJ and he said, ‘Rob, I need help,’ we all knew it was serious.”

Things moved fast after that.

“Within three days the gears were in motion and we had a fund-raiser planned,” Hartman said. “We called on our fellow officers here at the PD, the law enforcement community, and the community at large, to help us raise money for TJ, and they did as I have never seen before.”

Three weeks later, Wilton police and the PBA had a fund-raising event scheduled at the Ponus Yacht Club in Stamford.

“Sadly, on Jan. 3, 2016, TJ passed away, several days prior to the event,” Hartman said.

The event, however, was not cancelled.

“The fund-raiser at the Ponus Yacht Club, and the support from those who could not make it but wanted to do what they could, was staggering,” he said. “For TJ, we raised a total of $38,625.40.”

That amount more than covered Tunney’s funeral costs. Hartman said that from the beginning, it was TJ’s and sister Kathy Midland’s wish that the balance be donated to Connecticut Hospice.

“They, too, were there for TJ at the end,” Hartman said. “TJ always thought of others, and I find it very fitting that after his death, he is still helping people. This was why the Wilton PBA and TJ’s family are pleased and honored to present Connecticut Hospice the remaining funds in the amount of $23,801.52.”

Steven O’Shea, a representative of Connecticut Hospice, accepted the check. After giving his condolences to TJ’s family, friends, and fellow officers, he told the crowd just how far that money will go.

“We want everyone here to know that the generosity that is represented here in this check is actually very staggering. It well help many, many people — patients and families that the Connecticut Hospice assists, families and patients who are in deep crisis, crisis from a health standpoint but also from a financial standpoint,” O’Shea said.

Before the close of the ceremony, Hartman unveiled a new police cruiser dedicated to Tunney’s memory.

“I’d also like to point out that TJ’s badge number is 23, and we now have Car No. 23,” Hartman said.