GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Tuesday night, you can show your support for a Harrison County Sheriff's deputy who is fighting for his life. Deputy Jimmy Esposito has a serious heart condition. His co-workers will be holding the first of many fund raisers for him. They are joining forces with a coast restaurant to help Esposito through this very tough journey.
As a Harrison County Sheriff's deputy, Jimmy Esposito has experienced all sorts of surprises. But nothing prepared him for what happened two months ago.
"Jimmy started feeling bad. He had some swelling in his leg, and generally was in discomfort. He ended up going to the emergency room," said Chief Deputy Landon Phillips with the Harrison County Sheriff's Department.
Doctors told Esposito only 20 percent of his heart is actually working and he will need a heart transplant. His fellow officers immediately backed him up. They started planning a series of benefits for the 42-year-old deputy, who is a husband and father of four young children.
The fund raising campaign kicks off Tuesday night at Newk's restaurants in Gulfport and D'Iberville.
"Jimmy's a patrol officer. He's one of the K-9 officers, thought of very highly within the department. He's generally just a good guy, family man, and this is a situation where one of our own needs some help and we want to be there for him," said Phillips.
Esposito joined the Harrison County Sheriff's Department in 2008. Before that, he served 16-years as a Hancock County deputy.
"Any emergency personnel that goes out and put their lives on the line, and this is just a way for the community to say, 'Hey, we appreciate you. We thank you for it, and we're willing to help,'" said Pete Moran, a comptroller with the Harrison County Sheriff's Department.
Officers hope to raise $10,000 over the next few months to help cover Esposito's insurance deductibles for two years.
"We want to come together to help take that financial issue off his mind, so he can concentrate on getting well," said Moran.
"Hopefully, Jimmy will get himself a heart transplant donor and recover from this, and live a long happy life," said Phillips.
The fundraiser for Jimmy Esposito is Tuesday from 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM at Newk's locations on Highway 49 in Gulfport and Promenade Parkway in D'Iberville. The restaurant will donate ten-percent of sales during those three hours, and officers will be collecting donations and greeting guests.
Anyone interested in future fund raisers for deputy Esposito can go to the Harrison County Sheriff's Department's web site at http://www.harrisoncountysheriff.com. Events being planned include barbecue cookouts, silent auction and raffle, and fish fry.