Tyler Bailey

Bradley Police Officer Tyler Bailey

BRADLEY — Friends of Bradley Police Officer Tyler Bailey want his wife, Sydney, to be able to focus on assisting him through his recovery.

To that end, friends from Sydney’s softball team have been feverishly planning a large fundraiser — Blue for Bailey — in the hopes of raising $50,000 to $80,000 to allow his wife to remain by his side during these most difficult times.

Bailey is the Bradley officer who was shot in the head as he and Bradley Police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic responded to a barking-dog call on the evening of Dec. 29 at the Comfort Inn in Bradley.

After Bailey was wounded, Rittmanic was shot and killed moments later.

A trio of organizers, Melissa Curtis and Lauren Duffield, of Bradley, along with Melany Jacobson, of Kankakee, are spearheading the event set for 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23, at the former Carson’s women’s store at Northfield Square mall.

The event coordinators are seeking to sell 2,000 $20-per-person tickets. During the four-hour event, food and drink will be available for purchase and numerous gift baskets, vacation destinations, professional sporting event tickets, televisions, gift cards and even a heating and air conditioning system will be up for raffle or silent auction.

Specifically here are some of the items available: four Chicago White Sox tickets with Huntington Club access and parking; two Chicago Blackhawk Bud Skybox tickets; two Chicago Bulls Bud Skybox tickets; 55-inch Insignia FireTV 4K Ultra HD television; Sony PS5; autographed White Sox and NASCAR memorabilia; and two $500 Best Buy gift cards.

There also are some Florida and Myrtle Beach condo destination online auctions that will be available. Specific details were not yet available.

The $20 fee not only allows entry to the event, but includes five gift basket raffle tickets and one premium raffle ticket for what items will be determined as “big ticket” items.

Organizers also are planning to install a “Kids Zone” area for play to help make this a family-friendly event.

The event, however, is all about assisting Tyler and Sydney with personal expenses as they undertake what is expected to be a long road to recovery from his devastating injury. The couple married in October 2021.

The event was being planned with Tom Spellman, co-owner of Hoppy Pig in Bradley, but it became clear after about two hours of discussion, Curtis said, that a much larger space was going to be needed for what was being planned.

Because a large portion of the event items are being donated, it is expected that 100 percent of the money raised will go to the Bailey family.

The Hoppy Pig location is special to the Bailey’s. The Kinzie Avenue bar and restaurant is where the couple had their first date and where they shared many “date nights.”

As of mid-week, Curtis noted some 300 event tickets had been sold. There is an event link at Blue For Bailey Facebook page. Those who are interested in attending can RSVP on the Facebook event link.

Tickets also will be available at the door the day of the event by cash only.

“We are hoping to hit 2,000 attendance and if there are more, we can sell more tickets,” Curtis said. “We are trying to help cushion what will be a very long recovery time.”

Sydney has stepped away from her job with Nevada, Iowa-based Hertz Farm Management, a company which specializes in farmland sales, auctions, acquisitions and exchanges. She had been working for the company at one of its offices in downtown Kankakee.

Duffield, an Illinois State University roommate of Sydney’s and a softball teammate, said the trio wishes they could be doing more for their friends, but this event is certainly a start.

“I feel like we can’t do enough to help. We are trying to do as much as we can to take off as much stress as possible,” she said.

“She feels so incredibly loved,” shared Jacobson. “This is all for them. We know these people [police] put their lives on the line every day. We will stand behind them.”

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.