CONYERS -- Cindy Mahaffey knows what it's like to grieve over the death of a child. Her son, Brian Lamar Mahaffey, a deputy with the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office, was shot and killed in the line of duty on May 8, 2010.
But Mahaffey also knows that life goes on for those who survive, no matter how difficult that may be. Mahaffey has taken her grief over her son's death and channeled it toward helping others who experience the same tragedy.
On Friday, Mahaffey will travel to Washington, D.C., where she will participate in a 25-mile fundraising walk to support Concerns of Police Survivors Inc., a national organization that provides resources to help rebuild the lives of surviving families and affected co-workers of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
Brian was 28 at the time of his death. He was married and the father of two small children.
Mahaffey said she knows first-hand how much COPS can mean to a grieving family. She said the Georgia chapter of COPS contacted her family immediately after Brian's death and paid for their trip to Washington, D.C., where Brian was memorialized in a ceremony.
Now, Mahaffey wants to return the favor by raising at least $1,000 for the organization. She is seeking pledges in support of the 25-mile walk that will take place Saturday, Oct. 6 and Sunday, Oct. 7 and take walkers into Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.
A fundraiser will be held Tuesday night, Oct. 2, at Hooters in Conyers where patrons can take part in a 50-50 raffle. Fifty percent of the money raised from the sale of raffle tickets will go to COPS and 50 percent to the holder of the winning raffle ticket.
In addition, a fund called Brian's 2330 Memorial has been set up at United Community Bank where contributions may be made.
Mahaffey, a Rockdale native who worked as a nurse for Rockdale Family Practice for 10 years, said she still receives a great deal of support from the community.
"It has been amazing," she said. "I can't tell you enough about the love and support that is still going on."
She also said participating in the walk has helped her in body and soul. Mahaffey said she's lost 40 pounds during training, which has her walking 10 miles a day.
"It's been very therapeutic," she said. "That is my 'mine and God' time. I'll tell my husband I have to go have a talk with God. It's very relaxing too."
Even so, Mahaffey said there are still some dark times.
"There are still days that I cry over it, and I'm going to," she said. "I'll never be over Brian. But when I'm walking that's the time I feel that he's wrapping his arms around me. When the sun is shining down on my shoulders, that lets me know that God is still watching over me."