Helping public safety officers and firefighters during times of need.
This spring, the 100 Club of Arizona celebrates 45 years serving the families of public-safety officers and firefighters who are seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.
The organization’s original mission has expanded over the years. Today, the 100 Club of Arizona supports all police; correctional, probation and parole officers; firefighters; and federal agents who are serving and protecting the citizens of Arizona. The club provides financial, advisory, and emotional support and has given more than $6.7 million to over 2,000 statewide public safety agencies, officers, firefighters, and their families since its beginning. Sharon Knutson-Felix has been responsible for $6.2 million of that amount since she joined the 100 Club as executive director in December 2001. Under Knutson-Felix’s leadership, the range of support has been expanded from financial assistance in case of death or injury to include safety grants, scholarships for children of public safety officers, and peer-training programs.
Knutson-Felix is a passionate advocate of bereaved families of public-safety officers. Her first experience with the 100 Club came in 1998 when her husband, DPS Officer Doug Knutson, was tragically killed in the line of duty and she received a check from the organization. As a recipient of its benevolence, Knutson-Felix truly understands what the 100 Club’s benefits, both financial and emotional, mean in a time of crisis. She came to the 100 Club after spending 24 days working with survivors at Ground Zero in New York City immediately following the attacks of the World Trade Center in September 2001.
“In giving back, that’s how you find your feeling and strength, Knutson-Felix says. “You have to take tragedies and use those experiences to become a better person.”
Even before her husband’s death, Knutson-Felix wasn’t a stranger to tragedy. Her six-year-old son, Ricky, was run down by a reckless driver in 1983. After years of telling her story as a community leader, mentor, and victims’ rights advocate, Sharon was inspired to write her book, The Gifts My Father Gave Me: Finding Joy After Tragedy (Holbrook Street Press, 2006), to share her message with survivors on how to grieve, heal, and find love and joy once again. This book has touched the lives of hundreds of survivors nationwide, and 100 percent of the proceeds from book sales are donated to the 100 Club.
During their annual meeting and banquet, the 100 Club celebrated 45 years of giving back to public safety in Arizona and paid tribute to three officers and firefighters from across the state who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty: MCSO Deputy Sheriff David Wargo, BIA-Ft. Yuma Firefighter Anthony Polk, and Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie. The tribute ceremony’s theme, “Crazy Courage,” was inspired by the book published in 2012 by Samantha Light-Gallagher, the widow of border patrol agent Michael Gallagher, killed by a drunk driver. As described in Light-Gallagher’s book, “Crazy Courage is doing what is right for you, doing what you have to when you are in an emotional state that can become self-defeating, when you have lost the passion for life itself. Crazy Courage is what it takes to become yourself again.”
"[The theme] is also a dedication to the courage that our men and women behind the badge radiate each day in the line of duty," Knutson-Felix says. Courageous officers can count on Sharon Knutson-Felix and the 100 Club of Arizona to support them and their families, in every way possible.