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Fundraiser for fallen officer will take to the skies
Officer Ronil Singh
Cpl. Ronil “Ron” Singh, 33, died early on Dec. 26 in Newman after exchanging gunfire with a man he pulled over on a suspected case of drunk driving. Virgen Mendoza’s brother, Conrado Virgen Mendoza, 34, an illegal alien from Colima, Mexico, residing in Chowchilla; and friend, Erik Quiroz Razo, 28, an illegal alien from Michoacán, Mexico residing in Merced, were found guilty of conspiring to aid and abet Paulo Virgen Mendoza’s flight to avoid prosecution for murder.

A fundraiser set for this weekend aims to raise funds for fallen Newman Cpl. Ronil Singh and thank the police officers, firefighters and other first responders who continue to dedicate their lives to public service through a day of food, flight and fun.

Hosted by The Tri-Tipery of Ballico, the Public Service Appreciation Day Fly In & Family Fun fundraiser will see local fleets from the Merced County Sheriff’s Department, Merced County Fire and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s department roll out to the Turlock Municipal Airport for a dual event that will collect money for Singh’s wife and child as well as give the community a chance to see a vast array of fire trucks, squad cars, planes, helicopters and SWAT units up close.

“We wanted to do something for the Singh family, but we wanted to reach more than just the people of Ballico,” Tri-Tipery owner Rob Nairn said. “It’s more than just a fundraiser, though. We want to celebrate all of the first responders and show appreciation for all that they do because they’re the first ones we call when we’re in need.”

Singh, an immigrant from Fiji who came to the U.S. to pursue his dream of becoming a police officer, was gunned down the morning after Christmas while attempting to stop a suspected drunk driver. The gunman was captured in Kern County on Dec. 28.

Singh left behind his wife and infant son, and Nairn said The Tri-Tipery received the family’s blessing for the fundraiser.

“They were very thankful and really appreciative after everything that they’ve had to go through,” Nairn said.

While many guests will be driving to the event, The Tri-Tipery has promoted the fundraiser throughout the state’s airport network and is expecting pilots from various cities to make the trek out to Ballico.

Local businesses including Dust Bowl Brewing Co., Garton Ford Tractor and Optimal Hospice have sponsored the event by contributing an array of auction items, many with a patriotic or Thin Blue Line theme, for a silent auction that is launched this week online as the major fundraiser. Other items in the silent auction include day flights to breakfast and lunch locations, San Jose Sharks hockey tickets and hand-crafted goods.

Guests can bid on auction items during the event, or head over to The Tri-Tipery’s Facebook page to make offers on items beforehand.

“We knew there were a lot of people who might want to help outside of the community, but might not know how,” Nairn said. “We wanted to do the auction online so if someone was in Fresno or Bakersfield and wanted to bid on something to help out, they could.”

The Tri-Tipery has been collecting donations for the Singhs throughout the month of January and has launched a special “Triple Threat” sandwich meal deal for Turlock Restaurant Week, with $5 per meal going toward the Singh fundraiser. The same meal will also be available for purchase at the fly-in event.

Nairn hopes the event will not only raise much-needed funds for the Singh family, but perhaps even start a tradition of annual public service appreciation at the airport.

“Out here in Ballico we don’t have any festivals because we’re such a small community,” he said. “It’s not the goal, but it would be awesome if this turned into something that happens every year.”

The Public Service Appreciation Day Fly In & Family Fun fundraiser will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Turlock Municipal Airport, 13604 Newport Rd. Those who would like to donate auction items can contact Jana Nairn at 209-634-8448 or jana@aglink.com. For more information, visit The Tri-Tipery’s Facebook page.