Student resource officer

Howie Fitzpatrick wishes a teacher happy Thanksgiving at Sheridan Junior High School during eighth-grade lunch period Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019.

SHERIDAN — Howie Fitzpatrick loves serving others.

As his friend and coworker, Sheridan Police Chief Travis Koltiska has seen Fitzpatrick’s impact up close. Fitzpatrick, the school resource officer at Sheridan Junior High School, is a giver, Koltiska said.

So in recent conversations between the two, Fitzpatrick has expressed how odd and overwhelming it has been to accept the support of others throughout his current battle with cancer.

Thursday, there will be a fundraiser for Fitzpatrick and his family at Sheridan High School’s Homer Scott Field. Planned by Sheridan High School track and field coach Taylor Kelting and a host of others, the Twilight Track Meet will provide financial and emotional support for Fitzpatrick.

“The reason we’re doing this is because of the impact Howie has made on the community and on our kids,” said Kelting, who is also a Sheridan Junior High physical education teacher. “We just wanted to support him and give back to the Fitzpatrick family and bring the community together.”

The fundraiser will run from 6:30-10 p.m. and include a dozen track and field events. All community members are invited to attend — and participate if able and wanting to. Each event will have a $3 entrance fee. Signups start at 6 p.m on-site.

Several local businesses, like Hetty’s Pizza and Kilpatrick Creations, will have setups at the event. All proceeds and donations will go to the Fitzpatrick family.

Fitzpatrick has been the SRO at Sheridan Junior High for seven years and a member of the Sheridan Police Department for 20. His son, Nathan, is a senior on the track and field team. Kelting mentioned Nathan has been great in helping him organize the event.

“We really try with our track and field program to make it as family-oriented as possible,” Kelting said. “We just want to support them and their families as much as possible. We wanted to bring the community in because of how much impact (Fitzpatrick) has made on this community and this program. So he deserves that. His family deserves that opportunity to get the community involved.”

Fitzpatrick was diagnosed with both brain and lung cancer. He underwent successful surgery to remove four brain tumors but is starting chemotherapy for the lung cancer.

Koltiska knows how much the fundraiser and community support mean to Fitzpatrick, a born-and-raised Sheridanite.

“Howie earned this,” Koltiska said. “And it’s hard for him. I’ve had a couple conversations with him. He just felt weird that people are coming to help him when he’s been helping people his whole life. I was like, ‘You’ve earned this.’ He is so giving to others and never takes.”

The Sheridan Press could not reach the Fitzpatrick family for comment by press time.

Koltiska was actually planning his own event for Fitzpatrick when he heard about the track and field fundraiser. He and some other police officers are holding a fundraiser for the Fitzpatrick family Aug. 13 at Black Tooth Brewing Company.

“He’s amazing,” Koltiska said. “He’s a fighter. He’s expressed to me that he’s extremely grateful and humbled.”

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