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Gunnison rallies to support police chief diagnosed with cancer

GUNNISON — A small town in central Utah is rallying around its police chief, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

Gunnison Police Chief Trent Halliday went to the doctor for treatment of a kidney stone three weeks ago, then a week later he discovered he had cancer. "A couple of lumps removed from under my armpit, and they were sent to pathology, and it came back. It's stage 4 metastatic melanoma."

While Halliday faces difficult odds, he has decided to fight back and has an entire community ready to support him.

“The news is pretty tough. It's pretty tough to see a family that we are so close to go through something like this,” said Sanpete County Sheriff Brian Nielson.

Shortly after the diagnosis, the family set up a Facebook page called “Refuse to Lose” and a GoFundMe page was created. On top of that, a fundraising auction and banquet to help Halliday is planned for Thursday, Dec. 15, at Gunnison Valley Elementary School.

“Everybody is just offering to help or donate or be there in some way,” said Dan Dalley, a Gunnison resident. "We've only got this going two days on the auction and we are up over 10,000 in different items to auction, and it's going to get a lot bigger than that."

The Gunnison Valley Fire Department is also helping out. Its firefighters held out a boot while walking alongside its fire truck collecting donations during the town’s Christmas light parade Saturday night.

“We may wear a different badge and ride to a different siren, but we are all brothers in the first responder world,” said Gunnison police officer Zachary Jensen about the help from the fire department.

Neighboring police departments are also offering to help patrol Gunnison while Halliday is on medical leave.

"Centerfield next door has really stepped up to help out, and then obviously the sheriff's office is willing to take calls or help out anyway we can," Nielson said.

Halliday said the support of his family, from the community and from fellow first responders, has made a big difference in the days since his diagnosis.

Halliday will begin chemotherapy treatment this week, and even though he faces difficult odds, he has decided to refuse to lose.

“We know we have a fight on our hands and we are going to beat it, but the support has been amazing,” Halliday said. “That is what is helping us get through this.”