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FORT WORTH, Texas If you were playing just a few lanes over from them at the Don Carter Bowling complex in Fort Worth on Sunday, you might have thought the large group of keglers was just there for a good time.

But it was actually serious business that brought them there to raise money for D.D. Willingham.

I just love her to death, and I hate that she is having to go through this, lamented friend and former co-worker May Lynn Whitlock.

Willingham is a Fort Worth police officer afflicted with terminal cancer. Fellow Officer Rocsana Ferren, who was part of the fundraiser, had this to say about Willingham: She has given a lot of years to this department and this city.

Unable to work until retirement, Willingham s only option is to purchase enough time credits to let her retire. But that would cost about $32,000, and she doesn t have that kind of money.

What she does have though, are some very loyal former co-workers.

She's a sister; a sister in blue. That's how we roll, Ferren said.

She and the others behind this effort are determined to get Willingham to retirement.

It s an emotional rollercoaster, said Willingham s son, Kenyon Willingham. It has been overwhelming. She cried a minute ago, but she's okay.

He said it has been amazing to see the outpouring from his mom's extended family the ones who are bound together by a badge.

This is a family. Point-blank, it's a family, Ferren said. If someone in your blood family had struggles, you would come together for them. Well it's no different for us.

Willingham s colleagues plan more fundraisers and have also set up an online crowdfunding account that has collected more than $10,000 in just three days.

E-mail jwheeler@wfaa.com

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