Sheriff John Snaza has been gone from Thurston County for nearly a month — but he certainly hasn’t been forgotten.
That much was evident Saturday morning as hundreds of people gathered at two local restaurants to raise money for the Snaza family and to help the sheriff as he recovers from a Aug. 23 motorcycle crash.
The Seventeen51 Restaurant & Bistro at Panorama in Lacey and Mr. Doug’s Restaurant in Yelm served pancake breakfasts in exchange for donations.
“We knew that there was a need in the Snaza family,” said Ralph Munro, a Panorama board member. “They’re having to travel a lot to spend time with him, and we just wanted to help.”
The Panorama location was a who’s who of elected officials, law enforcement and firefighters — along with their families. For a while, an Olympia Fire Department engine was parked outside the restaurant.
As breakfast was being served, Undersheriff Tim Braniff gave a short speech updating guests about Snaza, who is recovering at Harborview Rehabilitation Center in Seattle. He said that the sheriff is working hard in physical therapy and is in good spirits.
“It’s probably the hardest work he’s ever done,” Braniff joked.
It might be a few weeks before Snaza returns to Thurston County, but he may be able to receive visitors soon. Braniff said Snaza’s family is doing well, too.
Munro said he wasn’t sure how much money had been raised at the Panorama location, but he said he thought people were being generous. People who didn’t make it to the fundraiser can send money to the Snaza Family Fund, care of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, at 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia.
Olympia Officer Jon Hazen brought his wife and children to the breakfast. He said he wanted to support Snaza’s family.
Hazen explained that the local law enforcement community is like a big family, and it’s important to support each other.
“I’m not the sheriff or anything, but I think people would support me, too, if I was hurt,” Hazen said.
As an added bonus, his son loved the pancakes. He ate nearly three.
Some guests, such as Olympia’s Deputy Chief Aaron Jelcick, attended both events. He reported that the crowd at Mr. Doug’s Restaurant was just as big, if not bigger, than the one at Panorama.
“It’s nice to see that,” he said. “It’s nice to see people coming out and showing their support.”