Lots of chances to help officer, Orange County resident battling leukemia

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, August 23, 2023

BRIDGE CITY — There are a lot of ways to take part in the Rally for Riley, which is helping an Orange County resident who is an area police officer battling leukemia.

The Rally for Riley — Port Neches Police Sergeant Marty Riley — is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Neches River Wheelhouse in Port Neches.

The Port Neches Police Officers Nonprofit Association is sponsoring the event.

Heather Burton, owner of My Tribe Nutrition and a board member, and retired police detective and fellow board member Aaron Tabor were busy this week gathering items at the Port Neches business for the benefit.

Burton placed a number of items out for a photo that would be in the silent auction, some of which include a framed University of Texas football jersey autographed by Roschon Johnson, a Chicago Bears mini helmet, Michael Kors purses, bottles of alcohol and baskets of various items for men and more.

Sergeant Marty Riley was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in January. (Courtesy photo)

The benefit

Burton said there is a washer tournament, cornhole for the children, a dunking booth manned by civil service personnel and first responders, silent auction, live auction and poker chip pools.

Other auction items include several vacation trips and a one-of-a-kind hog hunting helicopter trip.

Live music by Chip Darby, Paige Price, JT Reserve and Running on Credit are planned, Tabor said.

A blood drive is taking place during the benefit with donations being credited to Riley in case he is in need of a blood donation in the future.

Burton said she is involved because this is an opportunity to give back to someone who does so much for the community.

Tabor, who took medical retirement from Groves Police Department May 31, 2022, got involved with the nonprofit as a way to help PNPD with a Blue Santa program. Tabor had already been involved with Groves’ Blue Santa program.

Tabor and Riley worked together with the Groves Police Department before Riley moved on to PNPD.

The Rally for Riley is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Neches River Wheelhouse in Port Neches. (Mary Meaux/The Leader)

Sergeant Marty Riley

Riley, a Bridge City resident, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in January after experiencing symptoms for six months.

“I explained them away,” Riley previously told Orange Newsmedia. “My back would hurt. I couldn’t get comfortable when I laid on my side; it felt like my ribs were hitting something. The night sweats were terrible. I explained the back pain away by the duty belt. I explained the night sweats away because we had a new comforter on the bed.”

He couldn’t explain away the unintended loss of 40 pounds in six months or the small bruises that began to appear. But at the beginning of the year, a large, undeniable bruise prompted him to schedule blood work on a Friday morning. He said he would have known if something had caused the bruise.

He had blood work on Jan. 24. And the following morning, his doctor had the results.

“I was working security at the high school when she called me at 8 o’clock in the morning and said, ‘get to an ER,’” he said. “My white blood cell count was, by the end of the day, 311,000. Normal is 10,000.”

Riley left work and went to a freestanding emergency room, from where he was taken by ambulance to MD Anderson in Houston. Within two hours of arriving, he was told he had leukemia and began chemotherapy.

Since then Riley has undergone chemotherapy and continues to take it in pill form daily in addition to being on a trial drug.

He is still working as a police sergeant but has had to cut back on extra jobs.

The type of leukemia he has is incurable and he will need to take medication for the rest of his life.

— Written by Mary Meaux