Gold Shield Foundation helps dozens of first responders injured, killed in line of duty annually

Life can change in an instant, and arguably, no one knows that better than first responders.

Dash camera video from October 2016 shows Sgt. Andrew Fincher on the ground after being dragged and run over while approaching a stolen vehicle.

“When he threw it in reverse, the driver door caught me, and I had no choice,”  Fincher told FOX 5 in his first on-camera interview with a news station regarding the incident. “I was along for the ride.”

He broke his hip and tore all of the ligaments connected to the socket, resulting in what Fincher jokingly calls “the elderly man’s hip replacement on steroids.”

Fincher has since returned to the police force, though he admitted his run is a bit different because of a limp.

“The running joke is I’m the angry turkey,” Fincher said, laughing. “But hey, I’m still trying, I’m still giving it my best.”

The immediate pain of the incident didn't even begin to compare to the road to recovery – seven months confined to his home, two months on light duty. His family of seven suddenly found themselves with only a fraction of their main source of income.

“Going out there in the trenches and finding these bad guys and catching them and hopefully making a – to be ripped from that, it's jarring,” said Fincher, before a tear dripped down his cheek.

That’s where the Gold Shield Foundation came in.

Founded in 1997, the local chapter's nonprofit, made up entirely of volunteers, helps people like Fincher physically, mentally, and financially.

“The firefighters and the police officers in our communities deserve all of our support,” said Kurt Oppermann, Gold Shield Foundation's president. “Many times they are in need, and the public is just not even aware of some of the sacrifices that are made and some of the impact that's had on their family.”

Every year, Gold Shield assists several dozen first responders and their families in the metro area – a cause that resonates particularly with the Atlanta Fire Department, who holds an annual boot drive that, in part, goes towards the foundation.

In just 2018, Atlanta Fire raised $20,000 for Gold Shield, according to Oppermann.

AFD is among a number of partners that help provide for Gold Shield families. The Henry County Fire Department also routinely holds boot drives to raise money; officials told FOX 5 they hope to hold another “Fill the Boot” event by the end of 2019.

“We want to be there for your darkest moment and help you, so an organization likes this helps us when we're in our moment,” Fincher said. “It's a way for the public to help those who have been taken down while trying to protect you.”

You can make a direct donation to the Gold Shield Foundation here. Oppermann also encourages businesses and communities to collaborate with Gold Shield and organize events benefiting the nonprofit.