Railyard Customs & Collisions will make its monthly First Friday car event, set for April 2, a fundraiser for the family of Texas State Trooper Chad Walker, who died five days after being shot last Friday.
“We do this to bring the community and East Texas together,” said Ryan Ripley, Railyard owner. “It’s a free event where the community can gather to talk hot rods, bikes and hangout, however this month we are going to do something a little different. We are doing to take donations for the family of State Trooper Chad Walker who was shot in the line of duty this past weekend.”
Ripley grew up and went to school with Walker in Groesbeck, and considered him a friend.
“We went to grade school together,” Ripley said. “He was a year older than me, but we played together and hung out at each other’s houses when we were kids.”
Ripley remembers fondly an “Achy Break Heart” performance for the school follies that he, Walker and a couple of buddies all dressed up like Billy Ray Cyrus for a laugh.
Ripley stayed in touch with Walker over the years, watching him grow his family and volunteer in the community through Facebook.
“He may have been small in stature, but he made up for it in heart,” Ripley said. “He was a good man, loved his wife, his kids and the community. He was always doing something to help others.”
Walker was critically wounded March 26, while stopping to assist a driver in an apparently disabled vehicle near Mexia. The suspect fired multiple rounds at Walker through his patrol unit’s windshield before running from the scene, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Todd Snyder.A Blue Alert was issued for the suspect, who committed suicide March 27, according to Limestone County Judge Richard Duncan.
Walker was taken to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest hospital in Waco. DPS reported March 29 that after extensive life-saving efforts, Walker was not expected to survive.
He passed away Wednesday, March 31. Walker shared the gift of life as an organ donor.
“The Walker family is grateful for the continued support and prayers as they remain at Chad’s side,” DPS stated.
Walker was a father of four.
The fundraiser kicks off at 6 p.m. and is free to the public. Tahwahkaro Distilling Co. will be doing free whiskey tastings and there will be crawfish and hot dogs while supplies last.
The Smokin Aces Mobile Cigar Lounge will be onsite, and local rock band Blacktop Mojo will perform at 8 p.m.
“You can expect the best cars, trucks and bikes to be on display,” Ripley said. “There will be corn hole games, dart games, goodie bags and more.”
The event is BYOB.
Donations will be given to the family.
“I know a lot of money has already been raised,” Ripley said. “But no amount of money can replace the life force of such a man; a friend, a son, a husband and a father.”
Not only does Ripley want to help the family, he always want to raise awareness to find ways to help protect officers in the line of duty.
“There’s a lot of talk about bullet proof glass, bullet proof windshields, and I believe these items could be beneficial in protecting the lives of our officers,” he said.
Event sponsors include Jessica Walker – Realtor, Carroll Plumbing, Nuna’s Cajun, FiferLogic, Red Dirt Pest Control, Chloe & Claire Company, Discount Pools & Spas, Red Hat Rentals, Tahwahkaro Distilling Co., Sara Frith - Service First Mortgage, H&W Powersports, Sbrusch Law Firm, Satellite Source, All Star Sales – Trent Douglas, Cole Collins, Tobyn Fox and Railyard Customs & Collision.
Railyard Customs & Collisions is located at 701 E. Newman St. in Palestine.