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Brain tumor takes trooper off the highway

The living room in Tommie Greer's mobile home is crowded with reminders of his devoted friends. The Hernando County Sheriff's Office sent a 4-foot high card scrawled with words of encouragement: "Can't keep a good guy down" and "Hang tough, Tom."

More cards and flowers are lined up on table tops around the room.

And then there is his grandmother, Flossie Bradshaw, 84, who is maybe the most devoted of all. She has cooked and cleaned and cared for Greer since he was diagnosed as having a brain tumor in February.

"Where he is, I am also," said Mrs. Bradshaw, who is 84 years old.

Greer, 37, has been a Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) trooper since 1979, working out of the Brooksville office, patrolling the highways and investigating fatal car accidents in Hernando, Citrus and Pasco counties.

But cancer took him off the road and put him deeply into debt.

After his operation Feb. 18, he was hospitalized for more than a month. And with continuing treatment, an enormous medical bill has accumulated.

To help defray some the costs, his friends in law enforcement have organized a benefit to raise money for him.

The benefit will be held Saturday starting at 9 a.m. at Tom Varn Park. It will feature softball games involving agencies all over the state, a chicken dinner for a $4 donation, and a dunk tank featuring law enforcement officers and such luminaries as lawyers Bruce Snow and Joe Mason, said Kathy Hart, a secretary at the FHP office in Brooksville and a close friend of Greer's.

Ms. Hart said Greer owes about $500,000. Mrs. Bradshaw said, "I don't know how much it is, I just know it's a lot." The insurance paid only 80 percent of some of his treatment. And some of the aftercare, such as physical therapy, was not covered at all, Mrs. Bradshaw said. "I just hope they don't take the house."

Mrs. Hart said Greer earned such support from his friends. When he was well and had a chance to help people, Ms. Hart said, he always would.

"He helped put my kid's toys together this Christmas . . . right up here at the station," she said. "I can't think of anything bad about him."

Mrs. Bradshaw said that when her sister died about two years ago, Greer came by every afternoon to "take my blood pressure and make sure I was all right. . . . That's when he helped me so much.

"We've been pretty close over the years," she said. "Just about as close as a grandmother and grandson can be."

Greer moved in with her when he was a teen-ager, she said. She saw him through his graduation at Hernando High School and his first law enforcement jobs, at Zephyrhills Police Department and an 11-month stint at the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

Outside of work, he collected guns and had an abiding love for Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Ms. Hart said. "He never missed a Bike Week."

He wore a Harley-Davidson T-shirt Thursday, with the subscript, "Everything else is walking."

He doesn't ride now, or do mechanical work like he used to. And he usually doesn't talk much, either, his grandmother said.

But he can still crack a gentle joke.

Mrs. Bradshaw told about a trip she took to Arizona a few years back.

"That's when I tried hard to get rid of her," Greer said. Then he smiled to let her know he was kidding. "Well, not too hard."