The organization Police and Fire: The Fallen Heroes proudly features a true hero Grand Marshal for their 2011 Second Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament on June 13th at the historic Diablo Country Club. Trooper Bobby E. Smith, Ph.D. will be the Grand Marshal and keynote speaker for the event, having made inspirational presentations to over one million people nationally. The Bobby Smith story is compelling; he was a Louisiana State Trooper twenty five years ago when a gunshot to the face took away his eyesight and his life changed forever.
It was a routine traffic stop on Highway LA15. Louisiana State Police Trooper Bobby Smith had pulled over many vehicles before, but this night would be different. This night his life would change forever. At the time of the pullover, Trooper Smith was unaware that the driver was a drug offender that would react with such violence. Then it happened. Very fast, from a distance of about twenty feet, a shotgun blast hit the Trooper in the face. It was on that dark night, the 14th day of March 1986, as Trooper Bobby Smith lay face down in the centre lane of the highway, not knowing if he would live or die, that Trooper Bobby Smith’s life changed forever. On that dark night that he met fate on the Louisiana highway—a fate of a life of darkness—his eyesight was lost.
There is no way that others can even imagine what happens to the mind, body and emotions of a young vital police officer when the medical diagnosis is pronounced; permanent blindness. Trooper Bobby Smith knew one thing for sure that day—that life as he knew it would be changed forever. How can one know the feelings, deep in the soul of a young trooper, upon hearing the shattering words about his loss of sight? The benchmark of one’s mental and physical core is how one reacts after a trauma is suffered.. The individual himself is captain of his proverbial ship—the one who commands his own destiny—when the initial crisis subsides and the healing starts.
Bobby E. Smith, well aware of post-traumatic stress disorder, decided that he would help others who have gone through immeasurable loss. His dedication to aiding those with PTSD imbued his life with determination and new meaning. He did not want his life to be defined by tragedy but by the driving force of his own vision of life.
His personal losses were enormous; losing his own mother at the age of ten, permanently blinded by a shotgun blast, his nine-year law enforcement career ending along with his self-confidence, independence and eventually his marriage. When it seemed like all that any human could endure had already been heaped upon Bobby Smith—the most heart-wrenching heartbreaks were yet to come—the death of his twenty-two year old daughter Kimberly in a car accident, and later the passing of his son Brad ten days after his twentieth birthday.
Against all odds to forge ahead and succeed in the mission Bobby Smith had set for himself, he wrote his second book in 2005 as a catharsis, “The Will to Survive.” It speaks of the driving force behind the man who has faced more tragedy in his life than most men, and who was strengthened by learning from the solid character of his late mother—to see the best in the worst of things.
Smith was determined to use his own experiences and education to counsel and train other men and women in law enforcement by helping them overcome difficulties, unseen stresses and adversities that face them on a daily basis. After the critical incident of the highway shooting, he returned to the University of Louisiana for a higher education. He realizing that he was to be blind for life. Bobby Smith acquired a cane to assist him as he maneuvered through his sightless world—not the white cane of a blind person, but a regal blue cane, the color blue symbolic of a policeman—imbued with pride of the Force. It was that blue cane that he carried when he entered the dean’s office at the university; it was that regal blue cane he held when the counselor advised him that returning to college would be very difficult for a blind person. But, Bobby Smith had heard many negative things about the blind not being up to the task; he drew upon his unyielding courage to prove his audacious determination to succeed.
Bobby E. Smith succeeded. He had already acquired a B.A. in Criminal Justice at University of Louisiana in Monroe in 1981, in 1991 earned a Master’s degree in Education, and in 2000 a Ph. D. in Counseling and Psychology from Pacific Western University in Los Angeles. Extensive education and dedication made it possible for the extraordinary man of courage to assist others in Law Enforcement with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. In 2001, he founded FORTE—Foundation for Officers Recovering from Traumatic Events, and he serves as the President and Chairman of the Board. Bobby Smith has written two books; “The Will to Survive” and “Visions of Courage” and is an inspirational keynote speaker at about 150 national events, having done presentations to over a million people.
To research this extraordinary hero, I listened to Bobby Smith’s inspirational talk at the National Sheriff Association on the recovery after traumatic events on YouTube, and I am not shy to admit, I cried. He speaks from the heart recalling personal accounts of what happened to him, and how his life changed to lead him on a journey to help others. He does not harp on his blindness, but speaks with savoir faire about how sightlessness has affected his life, working with what he had; everything but sight itself. The most poignant part of his presentation is the emotional pain he suffered when he removed his beloved badge and hung up his uniform for the last time.
Trooper Smith’s shiny badge represented with great significance, his law enforcement career, explaining the mnemonic meaning of B.A.D.G.E; B for Bravery, A for Attitude, D for Dedication, G for God, and E for Empathy—the daily attributes of a police professional.
FALLEN HEROES POLICE AND FIRE: The Fallen Heroes sponsors several fund raising events annually for their 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation providing guidance, tribute and outreach support to family members impacted by the loss of either Police or Fire personnel who die in the performance of their duties within California. The Second Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament, honoring all California Police Officers and Firefighters, is run entirely by dedicated volunteers and the event is their largest fund-raising venture. The 2010 Golf Tournament and Auction raised over $55,000 of which they donated $40,000 to be equally divided between the families of the four Oakland Police Officers slain in March 2009.
Reservations are open to golf participants in this year’s June 13th event at Diablo Country Club. Celebrities who have committed, schedule permitting, are; Oakland Athletics’ Vida Blue, a Cy Young awardee, rocker Eddie Money and Friends, Ron Masak (TV star), Gary Plummer, former 49er and San Diego Charger, presently the 49er’s radio broadcaster, and many others. Police and Fire: The Fallen Heroes is spearheaded by the Chairman of the Board, retired Battalion Chief Tom Gallinatti, a 30-year veteran of the Oakland Fire Department, a Board of Directors and dedicated volunteers who work throughout the year planning and brainstorming. There is a great need for volunteers to be involved with this exciting and rewarding non-profit organization in the areas of fund-raising, coordinating events, computer skills, PowerPoint and DVD presentations, assisting in marketing, community liaison, making phone calls. What they need most of all, is the donation of printers and computers.
One of the most outstanding donations to the organization is our new Walnut Creek office space generously contributed by RREEF through their CB Richard Ellis leasing principals. Police and Fire: The Fallen Heroes will operate the all-volunteer organization at their new Walnut Creek headquarters at Mount Diablo Plaza, 2175 N. California Blvd. Through the generosity and dedication to community involvement, corporations like RREEF and CBRE and its stellar charity-minded principals, can make a significant difference to those families who have lost their loved ones in the line of duty.
www.thefallenheroes.org email; firstname.lastname@example.org phone 925.831.2011