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Community event planned for slain officers’ families

By BETH ALSTON

AMERICUS — Local and area residents will have the opportunity to be a part of an event to support the families of Americus Police Office Nick Smarr and Georgia Southwestern State University Police Officer Jody Smith. Both young men were killed in the line of duty in early December.
The event, hosted by Prayers for Americus, is scheduled for 1-5 p.m. Saturday on South Jackson Street in downtown Americus. Everyone is welcome to share an afternoon of music, dancing, food, and games, “in honor of our heroes Officers Nick Smarr and Jody Smith.”
Jessica Knights, an event organizer, said, “This event is a time for the community to come out and celebrate the lives of Nick and Jody with their families and friends. At the end of this event we will be giving the families the money we have raised and ending the day with a balloon release. If you have purchased t-shirts with us, please wear them. If you have been unable to purchase shirts yet, we will be taking orders at the event on Saturday.”
The event is family-oriented, Knights said. There will be bouncy houses (donated by Sky High Bounce) for the kids, sidewalk chalk and paint, and other games for children, as well as adult games such as corn-hole, yard jenga and yard dice.
Music will be compliments of Taylor Welch (Smarr’s cousin), Sarah Catherine Brown, the Plucktones, Blake Lee, and Luke Martin.
Knights said volunteers are needed for the event and donations of food, drinks, cups, plates, utensils, etc. are greatly appreciated. You can call her at 251-391-5037 to learn how you can help.
The event is free, with the only cost being for the cake walk (50 cents) and for t-shirt orders. Love donations will be accepted, and will be presented to the Smith and Smarr families at the end of the event.
Knights, who said she comes from a family of first responders, is a friend of Rachal Harrod, who was Smarr’s girlfriend. They are both nursing students, she said. After the tragedy, she started a group message on Facebook as “Prayers for Americus.” The t-shirt commemorating Smith and Smarr was designed by Global Graphics. “It is really amazing,” she said. “We never thought we’d sell as much as we did and raise as much money. We used Facebook to reach the community. Both families have said they are grateful for the money, but the way they will get through this loss is to be able to see people and get hugs and hear stories about” the two officers … “Both families need our love. I am extremely proud of this town and how we have all pulled together with love.”
Balloons will be released in memory of the Smith and Smarr at the conclusion of the event.