LILBURN -- Mayor Diana Preston and the city of Lilburn will hold a lunchtime cookout today to benefit a veteran police officer whose home burned down last week.
Mike Johnson -- a member of the Lilburn police force since 1998 -- was promoted from lieutenant to captain of operations on July 30, putting him in charge of road officers and community outreach. It's Johnson who now needs the community's help.
Last Wednesday evening, the home shared by Johnson, wife Shari and sons Colby, Hunter and Tyler was ravaged by fire. The Johnsons made it out safely, but two pets were lost in the blaze and the family's belongings were destroyed.
The city will host a cookout from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. to benefit Capt. Johnson and his family. Burgers, hot dogs and side dishes will be available for a suggested $5 donation at the Nash Pavilion at Lilburn's City Park.
Police Chief Bruce Hedley said officials are expecting "hundreds" of supporters to show up.
"(Johnson) is well-respected within the department as well as in the community," Hedley said. "The support he's received is because he's such a fine individual."
"We routinely respond to events like fires and other emergencies, but when the shoe fits on the other foot, it reall resonates," the chief said.
A bank account to benefit the family has been set up at local Wells Fargo branches. Those interested in donating should request their money go to the "City of Lilburn - Mike Johnson Family Benefit Account." The Lilburn Police Department is accepting donations of gift cards, checks and money orders as well.
For more information on donations, contact Jan Brumbelow at 770-921-2210, ext. 217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hedley said the Johnson family has already received a "really overwhelming" amount of support.
"They are just so overwhelmed and so appreciative of the support they've received," he said. "Not enough words can tell everyone how much they are truly honored and appreciative."