Scholarship to honor fallen officer

December 20, 2008|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN -- A year and a day after Smithsburg Police Officer Christopher Shane Nicholson gave his life in the line of duty, Maryland Chapter II of the Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club gathered to present his family with a gift that will help keep his memory alive for years to come.

The Blue Knights raised $7,000 from an Oct. 11 ride for a scholarship fund in honor of Nicholson, who was shot to death Dec. 19, 2007, while trying to stop a man who was being sought for an earlier killing.

Students who are interested in a career in law enforcement can apply for the scholarships, said Nicholson's mother, Karen Highbarger. Those at Williamsport High School, her son's alma mater, will get the first chance at the scholarships, she said.

The money from the October ride brought the scholarship fund to about $18,000, Highbarger said. The family wants it to become a perpetual scholarship fund in the future, earning enough interest for $500 or $1,000 scholarships for worthy students, she said.


The fund will be managed by the Community Foundation of Washington County, Highbarger said.

"He always wanted to be a police officer and he always wanted to protect me," Highbarger said. Her son overcame open-heart surgery as an infant and other challenges to achieve his goal, she said.

"Next year, we would also like to donate some money to Children's Village (of Washington County)," Highbarger said. Her son enjoyed teaching children there, she said.

At Children's Village, second-graders from Washington County schools receive training in fire prevention and water and bicycle safety, and even get to drive small electric cars on a mock city streetscape, said Mike Barnhart, president of Maryland Chapter II of the Blue Knights.

"He loved being over there," Highbarger said.

"My observation was ... he was an old-style foot patrol officer. Community-oriented," Barnhart, a retired U.S. park ranger, said of Nicholson. Barnhart also works as an instructor at the village.

The inaugural ride drew 305 motorcyclists who rode from Veterans Park in Smithsburg, where there is a memorial to Nicholson, through Blairs Valley and Indian Springs, where he and his father liked to hunt and fish, past Williamsport High School and Greenlawn Cemetery, where he is buried, Barnhart said. Along with the fee to participate, additional money was raised through the sale of sponsorships, he said.

"It's the biggest donation we've received this year," Highbarger said. She thanked the Knights "for the care, kindness and support they have given us this year."

Saturday's dinner drew Knights from three states, members from area ABATE chapters, state and local lodges of the Fraternal Order of Police and other members of law enforcement, Barnhart said. He predicted the next ride, set for Oct. 10, 2009, will draw even more riders.

Barnhart thanked Smithsburg Police Chief Charles Stanford, Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore, Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith, Sgt. Dave Hunter of the Frederick County Sheriff's Office and their officers for the support provided for the ride, along with Hagerstown fire police for clearing the way through town for the hundreds of riders.

The Herald-Mail Articles