For the first time ever, police dogs from northern Illinois will now have a memorial to honor their service.
The Northern Illinois Police K9 Memorial, a non-profit corporation established by Lake County sheriff’s deputy Tony Fanella and his sister, Traci Sikorski, recently met their fundraising goal and are now able to move forward with the construction of the memorial.
“It’s so amazing,” said Sikorski. After realizing they had met their goal, “I had my goose bumps and my tears,” she said.
The organization was incorporated in January 2011 after Fanella, Sikorski and others came together with a similar vision: to provide northern Illinois with a memorial dedicated to local police dogs. In June 2004, Fanella’s K9 partner, Sinbad, passed away due to a sudden heat stroke. Since then, he wanted to make sure that Sinbad’s service and the service of other police dogs would not be forgotten.
To reach their goal, the Northern Illinois Police K9 Memorial has held several fundraisers including a recent bags tournament and golf outing.
As they inched closer toward their goal, the Iron Justice Motorcycle Club donated $5,000 after they held a ride to benefit the organization. Then, Waukegan officer Keith Lamanna and his K9, Thunder, donated the last $1,000 needed in honor of all police K9s.
“This is something the whole community came together for,” said Fanella. “It’s completely funded by the public. It wasn’t one big donation; it was the kindness of so many different people.”
At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26 (Sinbad's birthday), the Northern Illinois Police K9 Memorial will reveal the new monument during a public ceremony at Highland Memorial Park in Libertyville. Local high school students are scheduled to lead the ceremony with the national anthem, and the organization will read off the names of at least 76 police dogs to be honored at the monument.
“We want everyone who contributed to be able to share in this event,” said Fanella. “This was a group effort.”
More information on the Northern Illinois Police K9 Memorial can be found at their website.