‘What am I bid?’ they asked – and the answer was thousands of dollars to benefit ever-popular HPD/Astros Officer JFlo

Tom Kennedy

The thousands of supporters of officer Jerry flowed over to Minute Maid Park to bid their hearts out to help a beloved HPD officer who continues to suffer from a unique golfing accident.

Senior Police Officer Jerry Flores not only ranks as a well-respected 26-year HPD veteran but also works for Major League Baseball as a security liaison with the Houston Astros. His story is well known – he suffered a severe head injury when he fell from a golf cart at a Thin Blue Line tournament in April.

His friends bid and prayed for his recovery at the Assist the Officer Aug. 23 fundraiser at Minute Maid Park.

Obviously the carefully laid plan for the event succeeded in achieving what auction chairman Alan Helfman, owner of River Oaks Chrysler Jeep, called “the fundraiser that beat the previous record for an HPD officer.” That record was $129,000.

“We sold a lot of items like we never sold before,” Helfman said after dancing and auctioning on the unair-conditioned stage for three hours. “We went all-out. I brought along six Texans cheerleaders, four Rockets cheerleaders, four young ladies from the Miss Houston Hispanic pageant and two TSU Tiger mascots.

“You can tell that this guy JFlo was well liked. A lot of people wanted to help his family.”

It was a special event for Helfman – his 100th auction benefiting a law enforcement officer, the vast majority of them HPD officers in dire need of help with medical expenses. Helfman himself contributed more than $20,000 in sports memorabilia.

How obvious was it that Officer Flores is so well liked?

The faces in the crowd and on stage told the story: Mayor Sylvester Turner, Police Chief Art Acevedo and Houston Astros President Reid Ryan, not to mention Constable Alan Rosen of Precinct 1 and a host of Houston City Council members.

Mayor Turner, who successfully auctioned off several pieces of Texas Longhorns/Earl Campbell memorabilia – sometimes with the help of Chief Acevedo – praised first responders like JFlo, as well as every Houston police officer and firefighter who sacrificed heavily during Hurricane Harvey. The mayor reminded those present that the firs anniversary of Harvey was two days away.

“And let’s never ever forget Sgt. Perez!” Turner said, referring to Sgt. Steve Perez, who drowned on duty in the flooding aftermath of Harvey. “Let’s remember his wife and family. Let’s never forget the helping hands extended by all of our police officers and firefighters.”

Turner, Ryan and Flores’ best friend, Senior Police Officer Steve Garcia, were generous in their praise of JFlo and their urging of prayers for his recovery.

Garcia has frequently visited Flores both at the hospital and at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) in recent days.

“He’s going to come back around,” Garcia said amidst the crowd of bidders and supporters, “I know he is. He’s my best friend. It (his recovery) has been a very slow progress but he is making progress. When the doctors say it’s OK he’ll be going back to TIRR and get more therapy than he gets in the hospital.

“He now gets bedside therapy but at TIRR he gets eight or nine hours all day long. My friend needs this help and we’re going to get it for him.”

Garcia said Flores loves protecting the Astros players’ families and believes he will one day return to that devoted task.

Ryan was instrumental in making sure that the Minute Maid facility was provided free to the sponsors of the fundraising event – the HPOU, Assist the Officer Foundation and the Astros Foundation.

“I’d like to think that we would do this for any friend,” Ryan said. “He is so loved.”

Ryan explained that Flores is in charge of protecting  Astros players’ families all through last year’s playoffs and throughout the World Series. He was considered an Astros family member and, yes, he got a World Series ring, Ryan said.

Chief Acevedo – a man who became known for inspiring the raising of numerous bids for the wide array of great auction items – also was lavish in his praise of one of the 5,300 officers of HPD. “He inspired the trust and loyalty of the community – and the Astros family,” the chief said. “No one in the department embodies relational policing like Jerry Flores. You see it with the Astros and you see it in the community he serves. That’s what we want throughout the Department and you are seeing more and more of it every day.”