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Special Olympics honors Officer Jeff Godfrey for tireless fundraising efforts
Officer Jeffery Godfrey
Ceres Police Officer Jeffery Godfrey (center) was given a surprise honor by Ally Bakalar, Special Olympics’ Region 4 fundraising and events manager, on Monday. Joining in was Ceres Police Chief Rick Collins. - photo by Jeff Benziger

At the conclusion of a Monday afternoon police briefing, Ceres Police Officer Jeffery Godfrey was surprised by an official with Special Olympics who popped in to present him with a recognition plaque honoring him for all he does to support the charity.

Godfrey’s family, Police Chief Rick Collins and Mayor Javier Lopez were among those who watched the special presentation by Ally Bakalar, Special Olympics’ Region 4 fundraising and events manager.

Jeff serves on the Executive Committee of the Special Olympics of Northern California, assigned to work with law enforcement agencies in Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties. The primary fundraiser is the police torch run, which involves approximately 200 police agencies and 2,600 officers running in Northern California. It is the largest fundraising vehicle for Special Olympics.

“He’s in charge of everything Northern California,” said wife Patty Godfrey, “so whenever they have any kind of fundraisers he’s the key guy that everybody reaches out to.”

“He does do everything, which is fantastic, which is why he’s getting this award,” confirmed Bakalar.

Officer Godfrey’s interest in special needs kids began early in life. When he attended a Special Olympics summer games 10 years that drove him to become a volunteer.

“I was hooked ever since and I truly do feel as though we have been given platforms as police officers to be able to make a difference in people’s lives and it’s something I strive to do every day,” said Officer Godfrey. “Without the support of our administration and department this wouldn’t be possible.”

Jeff also thanked his wife for her sacrifices of plans and his time away on his days off.

“He’s always had a passion for kids with special needs,” said Patty. “Growing up he had a friend that played baseball with him out at Bel Passi and this friend had a twin brother who was born with Down’s syndrome. That family was so special that they never let that child know that he was different in any way. He was at every event and every baseball game. Jeff and his brother just really fell in love with as little kids.”

The 2.6-mile Ceres torch run starts at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 21 at the Ceres Community Center. It will run to Whitmore Avenue, to Ninth Street, to Fowler Road to Mitchell back to Whitmore and back to the center.

The run culminate in the Santa Clara County Special Olympics summer games.

COVID put a serious dent in fundraising efforts of charities and Special Olympics is no different. It is coming back, said Bakalar.

“We definitely could not do anything that we do without our volunteers, law enforcement and coaches and things like that. We have a staff but our volunteers are what make it happen and get the fundraising in communities all over Northern California, law enforcement being our biggest supporter for fundraising. Jeff was voted our ‘Law Enforcement Torch Run Volunteer of the Year.’” 

Born in Yuba City but raised in Modesto, Godfrey graduated from Davis High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Management and has a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership.

His journey in law enforcement started in 1998 as a reserve with the Hughson Police Department. He was sworn in as a full-time sheriff’s deputy in 2000 and left in 2011 to go to UC Merced Police Department as a sergeant. Godfrey left law enforcement in 2015 to work in the private sector, but maintained his POST status working as a reserve with Livingston Police in Merced County. He returned as an officer in 2018 when he was hired as a full-time officer with Livingston Police in 2018. Godfrey joined Ceres Police in November 2020.

Jeff and his wife of 17 years, Patty, have three children: Tyler, 28, Amy, 24 and Joei, 22. He enjoys running, working out, playing softball and serving with his wife at church.