Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Deputy Draws Support after Stroke; Sheriff Hopes to Win Him $10,000

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Deputy Draws Support after Stroke; Sheriff Hopes to Win Him $10,000

Article excerpt

Byline: Christina Abel

Since experiencing a debilitating stroke in September, St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Deputy Steve Bailey still listens for the police sirens.

From his wheelchair in his St. Augustine home, he asks his fiance if he should get ready just in case his fellow officers need him. He says he could at least be out there with them, watching their backs. But she tells him to rest and be patient.

During his 13 years as a deputy, most recently as a youth resource officer at Landrum Middle School, Bailey's patience was a virtue, said his fiance, Joyce Holliman. Ever since his stroke, she said, the county schools, including Ocean Palms, Rawlings and Ponte Vedra Palm Valley elementary schools, and students have been showing just how much they appreciate Bailey.

His commanding officer, Sgt. Joey Romer, said Bailey connected with the students and they remember that.

"The kids love him, they ask about him," Romer said. "He not only acts as a law enforcement officer, he acts as a father, a mother, an uncle, an aunt, all those roles."

At the annual Battle of the Big Cats basketball game at Landrum Middle School in March, which pitted the Jacksonville Jaguars against Landrum faculty, students went around collecting donations for Bailey, Holliman said. One student, an eighth-grader who has known Bailey for two years, stayed by his side throughout the game.

"He told me Steven was the reason he had changed his attitude in school and was even thinking about being a deputy himself," Holliman said.

Over the past several months, Bailey, who gets hyperbaric chamber oxygen treatments about three times a week, has needed this support more than ever.

The treatments, which cost about $188, are in addition to the expenses he incurred during his six-month stay in the hospital.

Holliman said she tried balancing three jobs to support Bailey and her five children, but that it was too overwhelming. …

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