Community rallies behind recovering police officer

Posted at 9:35 PM, Oct 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-15 22:24:36-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — When one of Grand Rapids Police Department's newest officers was almost killed in a motorcycle accident off-duty this summer, the entire department rallied behind him.

The Grand Rapids Police Officers Association organized a silent auction and benefit for Travis Fante, 21, Saturday. Fante tells FOX 17 he landed his dream job last December when he was hired as an officer with the GRPD; something he had wanted for as long as he could remember.

Now Fante says he's thankful to be recovering, after his motorcycle caught gravel riding a curve up north on July 4. After nearly two months of rehabilitation, Fante graduated from Mary Free Bed Sept. 21, and relearned how to walk in hopes off getting back on patrol.

“It was hard to fight to stay alive because I was worried about what was happening to my body, so much unknown," said Fante.

Unable to move from a spinal cord injury, Fante was airlifted in critical condition then fought hard through constant therapy.

“When I first got to Mary Free Bed I was almost like a quadriplegic, I couldn’t move any of my body," he said.

Only seven months into serving the GRPD, Fante's coworkers stood by his side.

“It was like a week after the accident, I went in to visit him to try and encourage him, I  came out of the hospital being encouraged by him," said Andy Bingel, Fante's coworker and GRPOA president. "He’s just an incredible kid.”

Even coworkers Fante didn't know donated their sick time to ensure he had full benefits.

“I had a guy I had never met before," said Fante, "and he donated 320 hours to me right before he retired that he could have cashed out for his own money that he earned.”

It's the kind of brotherhood and sisterhood felt at Saturday's benefit in Grand Rapids that is helping pay Fante's  medical bills.

“I feel good," he said. "I’m blessed with having a lot of great people in my life."

It's this support paired with his motivation to get back on the force that had Fante walking out of rehabilitation as he left Mary Free Bed. Now his goal of serving again in uniform is in sight.

“To me it’s almost not even about walking and running again, it’s about getting back to being a police officer back out on the street," said Fante.

Fante will return to the GRPD as a dispatcher and continue therapy three times per week in hopes of returning to patrol. He is working on paying extensive medical bills and if you would like to make a donation see Fante's Road to Recovery Crowdrise page.