Author: TFB Staff
By Jim Lewis Reading Eagle
Montgomery County, PA — Just before Thanksgiving, they arrive at Lynsay Fox-Watts’ house, their motorcycles rumbling, their police lights flashing.
Her “blue family,” she calls them.
They form a line, two abreast, that crawls up her street past the new homes in her New Hanover Township development, police officers in dark blue dress uniforms, motorcycle boots and white helmets, and Fox’s children bound down the driveway.
“Brad! They’re coming!” shrieks Kadence, 6, to her brother Brad, 5, and the two bounce excitedly as the procession nears.
The officers dismount in front of the house, one carrying a box filled with a Thanksgiving dinner – turkey and ham and all the trimmings, cooked by chefs at Sunnybrook Golf Club – for the family.
It’s a holiday tradition that began six years ago, after Lynsay’s first husband, a police officer in Montgomery County, was killed in the line of duty.
Officer Bradley M. “Brad” Fox, 34, was shot in the head by a hit-and-run suspect whom Fox was chasing near the Schuylkill River Trail in Conshohocken on Sept. 13, 2012. It happened on the eve of Fox’s 35th birthday; Kadence wasn’t a year old, and Lynsay was pregnant with Brad.
Every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, police officers have arrived at Lynsay’s house to deliver a holiday meal. On Tuesday, police officers from Reading, Montgomery County, Philadelphia and other southeastern Pennsylvania departments kept the tradition alive. Some knew Brad Fox; others never met him but were moved to join the procession.
‘Their dad was not forgotten’
The first time the procession arrived, “It was pretty overwhelming, but in a good way,” Lynsay said. Six years later, Lynsay, now remarried, greets the officers with her children, and offers the participants coffee. The dinner will go with her to her parents’ home on Thanksgiving; the tradition has become an event more for her kids to experience.
“It’s more of a way for them to realize that their dad was not forgotten,” she said.
Organizers call the effort Holiday Meals for Heroes, a chance to offer support for families of fallen officers.
It still brings tears to the eyes of its founder, James Binns, a 79-year-old deputy chief for Darby Township and a motorcycle instructor. Binns, a former Philadelphia attorney, began Meals for Heroes 10 years ago to honor police officers who died in the line of duty.
“I wanted to honor the sacrifice all these police officers have made,” he said, fighting back tears while standing in Lynsay Fox’s driveway. “We want to let them know we don’t forget them.”
The procession also made a stop Tuesday to visit a slain officer’s family in Lower Gwynedd Township, and a breakfast for families of slain officers was scheduled today in Philadelphia, Binns said.
Brad Fox, a Warminster native, was the first Plymouth Township police officer to die in the line of duty. A former Marine, he served two tours of duty in Iraq before training to be a police officer. Fox and his K-9 partner, Nick, chased after a suspect in a hit-and-run accident who had abandoned the stolen vehicle he was driving and ran toward the trail. Fox was shot in the head, his body found between railroad tracks; the suspect was shot twice in the chest, an apparent suicide, authorities said.
Led to new law
The incident led to Pennsylvania’s Brad Fox Law, which increased the penalty for those found guilty of engaging in two “straw” purchases – buying a gun for a convicted felon who cannot legally own a firearm.
Tuesday’s procession drew at least 40 police officers, including state troopers, Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies and two officers from the Reading Police Department.
Reading senior Sgt. Jason Linderman, a K-9 handler, felt a bond with Fox because of their common assignment.
“I’m here just to let his family know how he’s not forgotten,” Linderman said. “He didn’t die in vain.”
For Lynsay, the annual gesture is moving, but as her children grow older and attend school, it becomes more difficult to have them there when the procession arrives.
“We’ll see how it goes,” she said.