Naples law enforcement community rallies around CCSO detective diagnosed with breast cancer

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Facebook Live video of a benefit event that was held at the Naples Harley-Davidson on Saturday, July 22, 2017, for a Collier County Sheriff’s Office detective who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Nonnie Ivey, her face lit up with a smile, grabbed the permanent marker and, with a few quick strokes, traced a heart on the side of a bright pink firetruck.

Ivey, a Collier County Sheriff’s Office detective, has been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She wants to use her illness to advocate for others fighting cancer.

Law enforcement officials came together Saturday to celebrate Ivey and raise money to help her cover medical costs. They started with a motorcycle ride in Naples, and then congregated at the Harley-Davidson store on Pine Ridge Road in North Naples for a party.

“It’s kind of a whirlwind really. I’m really humbled,” said Ivey, 41. “It’s about people coming together and sharing their stories and sharing things they might not share. Because a lot of people don’t talk about it.”

Members of the Pink Heels Southwest Florida chapter — a group that promotes breast cancer awareness by painting firetrucks pink — were in attendance.

As of 6 p.m. Saturday, over $ 1,000 had been raised for Ivey, who has worked at the Sheriff’s Office for 22 years, moving up from a dispatch position.

Ivey has been diagnosed with cancer three times.

“The fight that girl has … there’s very few people that have taken my breath away. My mom, my wife and Nonnie,” said Tom Cullen, a homicide detective with the Sheriff’s Office.

“I lost my mom to cancer in 2004. I wish she had the fight that Nonnie has,” said Cullen, who helped organize Saturday’s event. 

Ivey, a single mother raising two kids, is pursuing a nursing degree. She works for the Sheriff’s Office as a detective in the Child Exploitation Unit, Cullen said.

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“Pretty much already a superhero,” said Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez of Ivey. Rodriguez is the marketing manager at Naples Harley-Davidson.

Dozens of area law enforcement and former law enforcement officials gathered Saturday morning for the motorcycle ride. About 20 to 30 bikers showed up, including police officers, Rodriguez said.

Deputies blocked off intersections as the procession of bikes rolled toward the motorcycle shop. Overhead, a Sheriff’s Office helicopter filmed the event.

Driving on Livingston Road, Cullen flashed a thumbs up. There was no rain. The sun was shining.

The homicide detective had knee surgery Friday. He was told not to ride, but there was no way he was missing this.

“She’s a warrior … she never complains,” said Patty Melendez, a corporal with the Sheriff’s Office Safety and Traffic Enforcement Bureau, standing outside Nana’s Diner off Golden Gate Parkway, where the motorcycle ride started Saturday morning.

Melendez has known Ivey for 17 years.

Scott Black, president of the Defenders Bike Club, said he helped organize a group of bikers for the event. The Defenders club, founded in Naples, has spread across the country as a law enforcement-based organization of bikers.

Black said he met Ivey’s father, Sam Ivey, while working at the Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s personal to anybody who’s law enforcement,” he said. “When one of our own goes down or is having problems, it affects us all.”

About 6 p.m., the party started at Naples Harley-Davidson. Endeavour, an area band, performed as people filled up a parking lot. Ivey arrived, hugging Cullen.

Rodriguez said Naples Harley-Davidson hosts a bike ride every month to benefit local charity organizations. The shop held one for brush fire victims earlier this year, he said for example.

This time — after talking with Cullen and other police officers — Rodriguez said the Harley-Davidson location got permission to put on a larger party for Ivey.

“I have my bad days; everybody has their bad days. But I just try and push through it. And if I keep going, I don’t feel as bad,” Ivey said, before going outside to enjoy the music. “This helps, it’s amazing.”

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Craig Ballantyne

I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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