Sunday fundraiser will help retired policeman

August 26, 2011
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Sgt. Robert McGaha served as a police officer for nearly 30 years, fighting crime in several West Side neighborhoods, including Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield.

Now his family and friends hope those same communities will come together to help him.

Sunday morning, a fundraiser will be held to help raise money to buy an elevator lift for McGaha, who’s paralyzed and has limited mobility because he can’t easily leave his home.

“It is hard for him to go up and down the stairs and go outside,” said Barbara Wright, McGaha’s partner of 34 years.

Wright said she made attempts to contact the Chicago Police Department to help purchase the elevator lift but had no luck, so she’s turning to the West Side.

“Robert had been in and out of hospitals and rehabs a lot since his first stroke in 1994, and an elevator lift is not affordable,” she said, noting that she had to move McGaha from Chicago to her home in Calumet City.

Radio talk show host Harold Davis and community activist Calvin “Omar” Johnson are helping with Sunday’s event, which will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at Ruby’s Restaurant (formerly Edna’s), 3175 W. Madison St.

“Since he used to serve and protect our communities, we want to serve and protect him,” said Johnson, who grew up in the Lawndale area with McGaha.

He said McGaha was a staple on Chicago’s West Side throughout his 27-year career working for the Chicago Police Department.

Johnson, co-founder of the Workshop Coalition, credits McGaha for being a firm but fair officer who upheld the law and who gave stern advice on life’s lessons to young people.

“He was one of those officers that was tough but gave people an opportunity to make better choices,” Johnson said. “He hasn’t been outdoors to see the daylight in almost 10 months because he can’t physically move. He doesn’t have a system in his home to get outside.”

McGaha is looking forward to Sunday’s fundraiser: “I’m hoping for a good turnout. I hope to see people I haven’t seen in a while.”

Johnson hopes so, too: “We in the community have not forgotten the positive impact he made on our lives, and now we want to return the favor.”

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