The ‘Start Your Weekend Early’ tournament is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) Honor Guard, whose members attend local, state and national events throughout the year. Sergeant Michelle Bello, Commander of the Honor Guard, said the group relies on the funds for its yearly travels, equipment and collectibles needed to attend police memorials, awards ceremonies and various funerals during the year.
“(The funds) are mostly for travel and then specific equipment because we are not budgeted,” Bello said, “So we don’t take away monies from the safety of our community. All of our travel funds are through fundraising. We also provide the flags that we fold and provide to the families and we may provide other memorabilia like coins, patches and things that are special to the families.”
Bello said the Honor Guard, which is comprised of 17 members ranging from WCSO deputies, employees and volunteers, will travel along the west coast and as far as Washington DC for its events. The National Police Memorial held in the nation’s capital can cost as much as $6,000 each year for four members to attend the five-day conference. Bello said last year’s golf tournament raised about $4,000, and she hopes a better turnout this year will help provide funds for the unknown number of events in the coming year.
“It really does vary on how much we will spend in a year because you never can plan what funeral service you are going to go to or which states you will travel to,” she said. “We have friends and family of members of the Sheriff’s Office who come out to support us. We also have the honorary deputies, which is a group made up of community leaders throughout Reno-Sparks.
There are several different businesses that our honor guard members go to and have golf teams come out. They will help sponsor us by whole or part sponsorships. It is a community support, absolutely.”
Washoe County Sheriff’s Office personnel mingled with the various players beginning at noon on Friday and headed off to their respective holes for the shotgun start at 1:30 p.m. Each golfer, playing solo or with a team, paid $100 for a spot on the links, which included lunch, a cart and a warmup bucket of balls.
As the golfers circled and finished the Sparks course, Bello said the awards ceremony closing out the day was her favorite part of the fundraising efforts. She said seeing the community’s support in the Honor Guard’s various endeavors brings incredible excitement.
“We are very appreciative and ecstatic when it goes off well,” Bello said. “I get excited when they start the shotgun start and the excitement of going to have fun. And then at the end, I hear the comments that they have had a good time. They have shown so much support throughout the five or six hours that it has happened; it is just a blessing to me. It makes me feel fabulous to see the support that is shown there.
“People are so appreciative of what we have provided, and the other side of that is we are appreciative that they allowed us to provide it and that they came out to support us. That is a good feeling.”