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'Horses of Honor' Head to Magnificent Mile to Fundraise for Fallen Officers

  Horse statues decorated by various artists will adorn Michigan Avenue for a fundraiser and awareness campaign.
Horses of Honor
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CHICAGO — A fleet of Chicago Police horses will soon descend on Michigan Avenue — but they won't be there to fight crime.

Instead, 50 horse statues decorated by local and international artists will be installed along the Magnificent Mile through the end of November as part of the "Horses of Honor" initiative benefiting the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.

The horses will be auctioned off after they're removed from the Mag Mile in November.

"What they do is they raise money for police officers who are killed in the line of duty, or who are catastrophically injured," Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Tuesday at a news conference at police headquarter.

 Shown is one of 50 "Horses of Honor" that will be displayed on the Magnificent Mile through November and auctioned off to benefit the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.
Shown is one of 50 "Horses of Honor" that will be displayed on the Magnificent Mile through November and auctioned off to benefit the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.
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DNAinfo/Lizzie Schiffman

"I don't think you realize how frequently that happens. There are so many officers who have been injured — certainly in the time that I've been here — in these shootings. We've had seven officers shot since I've been here in the last three years, and actually, we've had a quiet year and a half. The first two years, or a little less, we had six officers shot."

The foundation gives money to the families of fallen officers, supplying college funds for their children, and helping pay for rehabilitation and other necessary care for officers who survive injuries in the line of duty.

One horse, painted to look realistically like the police horses actually used in Chicago, is named "Sacrifice" and was positioned next to McCarthy at Tuesday's launch of the campaign. Sacrifice represents six catastrophically injured police officers, and features each of their names.

One of those names is Bernie Domagala, who was shot in the head while working as a Chicago Police officer in 1988.

Domagala's wife Denise and one of his three sons were at the kickoff announcement, and spoke of how the foundation's help affected their family.

When Domagala was shot in the line of duty, "we had 4-month-old twins and a 4-year-old," Denise Domagala said. "I knew what it was like to not have the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. We went for 15 years or so with no assistance or no help ... and we kind of felt like we were out there floundering."

"When the Memorial Foundation came together and called us, and said we can help you, we can help Bernie and the boys, it was unbelievable. ... When I hear the words strength and power, it's perfect, because that's exactly what the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation gives us.

"To know that all the police officers are together, and they're all walking with us through this journey is an incredible feeling for our family," Domagala said. "We'd be lost without the Memorial Foundation."

Adam Domagala, who recently graduated with an MBA thanks to college funds from the foundation, thanked the organization for its support.

Before wrapping up, McCarthy mentioned that his own artistic pursuits as a child could make him a great candidate for future public art fundraising initiatives.

"Here's a little-known Garry McCarthy fact," he said. "I actually used to sketch and paint animals and seascapes, believe it or not at one time. So there's probably some pieces out there. Who knows? Maybe we'll put those on a gallery also."

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