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Hundreds turn out to support Dewey family

Area residents packed the West Fargo VFW building Monday for a benefit spaghetti dinner and silent auction for Mahnomen County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Dewey. Dewey was shot in the head Feb. 18 while on duty. (Dave Wallis/The Forum)

MAHNOMEN -- As Mahnomen County Sheriff Doug Krier stood at the back door of Deputy Chris Dewey's home Feb. 18, he prepared himself to break the most difficult news of his career.

Krier had to tell Dewey's wife, Emily Dewey, that her 26-year-old husband had been shot in the head and abdomen that morning while investigating a series of gunshots.

"With law enforcement, when something like this happens to one person, it happens to all of us," Krier said. "And with the spouses, they know that when you get a knock on the door like I had to do with Emily, that could have been any one of them. That is one of our greatest fears."

But on Monday night, law enforcement officers were able to show support to Chris Dewey's family through a spaghetti dinner/silent auction fundraiser.

The event, sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police, Red River Valley Lodge No. 1 and the West Fargo VFW Post 7564, attracted hundreds of supporters.

Anywhere from 50 to 60 law enforcement workers from across the region helped to direct traffic, clean tables and serve food, which was donated by the VFW.

Supporters skipped holiday parties and other obligations to cram into the hallways of the West Fargo VFW in anticipation of a spaghetti dinner. They jammed $10 bills and generous checks into collection buckets decorated with pictures of the handsome, young deputy.

Just 45 minutes into the dinner, the volunteer crews had served 400 people, and queues of people still lined the perimeter of the basement dining room, the entryway and the basement hallways of the building.

Among the supporters were good friends Chari Honrud, Carol Hoffman and Donna Tvedt, who have followed Dewey's story over the past 10 months. "I think it's a very worthy cause," Hoffman said. "His situation has been so up and down."

No one knows this better than Emily Dewey, who attended the benefit with her mother and several friends. She said she was surprised by the show of support for her family. "Especially with the holiday season and the economy being so bad ... that they would still remember us is pretty cool," Dewey said.

In the past 10 months, Dewey has been an almost-constant companion to her husband, whose complications have included operations to repair shunts, leaky brain fluid, meningitis and, worst of all, a hemorrhage called a "brain bleed."

The deputy is now at a rehabilitation center in Englewood, Colo., where he receives speech, physical and occupational therapy daily. Although her husband hasn't talked in over a month, Emily was pleased that in her last conversation with him he was thoroughly aware of his surroundings and what had happened to him.

Family members hope Dewey will be able to return home in late January.

"It's exhausting; it's a labor of love," she said of their nearly yearlong ordeal. "You just do it. It's not something you would wish on anybody. But I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

How to help

* To make donations to help the Chris Dewey family, call Rhonda Jorgensen at (701) 433-5500 or send a check to: FOP Lodge No. 1, c/o Dewey Benefit, PO Box 962, Fargo, ND 58107-0962.