SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – What started out as an event of only 50 people has now grown to draw in thousands of people each year. Wednesday night people came together for the 38th annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner and Children’s Charity fundraiser.
Gene Abdallah started the event back in 1982. He died earlier this month at the age of 83.
It was a packed room tonight as over 2,000 people made their way to the annual fundraiser.
While Gene Abdallah is no longer here, his son Scott says you can still feel his presence.
“I think we all feel his presence here tonight and I think he’s looking down with a smile,” son, co-chair for event, Scott Abdallah said.
Gene first started this event as a way to bring law enforcement agencies and officers together and thank them for their dedication and service. It also raises funds for children’s organizations.
“This event is really a testament to his perseverance and how hard he worked to try and bring law enforcement together every year to bond at all different levels of government and share stories and friendships,” Abdallah said.
This is an event some people come to every year. For people like Tim Bachman, he’s been coming here for about 20 years.
“It’s just so important and we love the support that the state of South Dakota and the City of Sioux Falls and everywhere in our area that supports law enforcement, that’s why we’re here, and all the businesses in Sioux Falls, we really go after helping law enforcement do what they do and keeping these guys safe,” attending event, Tim Bachman said.
An event that organizers hope continues to grow.
“We hope to continue this for another 10, 20, 30 years if we can, but we’re excited for next year, always excited about a new speaker and a different event but we’re hoping to continue on in his name and in his spirit into the indefinite future,” Abdallah said.
The event has also raised millions of dollars for children’s charities.