Torrance County sheriff’s deputy Ron Fulfer has made his 28-year law enforcement career in the Estancia Valley, and now that he needs a kidney transplant the community is rallying behind him.
For 20 years, Fulfer has lived with a degenerative kidney disease; now he needs daily dialysis and a kidney transplant. His wife Brenda Fulfer held back tears talking about her husband, who she said has “been in and out of the hospital a lot” just as the family has the added worry of the closure of CoreCivic’s prison in Estancia, where she works until the end of this week.
That closure is putting added pressure on the sheriff’s department where Ron Fulfer works, and extra financial pressure on the Fulfer household.
An organ transplant requires all kinds of testing of both the recipient and the donor. The recipient has to be tested to make sure he or she is healthy enough for surgery, and donors in a kidney transplant take longer to recover than the recipient, she said.
Dispatchers started a crowdfunding page to raise money for the Fulfers, for everything from living expenses to travel expenses if that should be needed. It has raised about $5,500 so far.
“Ron hasn’t been working for the last three months,” Brenda Fulfer said. “I’m in the process of losing my job. … Ron can’t drive so I do all the driving now.”
She said CoreCivic has been very understanding and “really family oriented” as she has missed work for her husband’s many appointments.
Yvonne Duran has been at dispatch for almost 10 years, and said she was the most “Facebook ready,” so she put together the fundraising campaign.
“Every experience I’ve had with him, whether on his worst day or his best day, shows how kind he is,” Duran said. “He is always fair. He treats people as a person first. … He’s firm, still doing his job. Even if they get put into custody they say he treats them very fairly. It speaks loudly when people who are maybe on the wrong side of the law that day, making bad choices, still respect him.”
“He’s a hard worker, really dedicated to his community,” Brenda Fulfer said. “He’s dedicated to his job, and I know he misses it so much.”
He started his career at the Moriarty Police Department and has served as Mountainair’s chief of police.
His brother, Dennis Fulfer, still lives in Mountainair, where he is now the town’s clerk.
Dennis Fulfer said he is the most likely donor, and said he will be tested to see if he’s a match for his brother. A complicating factor is that the hereditary disease might affect both.
“We’re already the same blood type,” said Dennis Fulfer. “Factors [doctors will look at] include familial stuff like my own family life,” he said, adding, “Possibly I’ve got the disease he’s got.”
Dennis Fulfer said his brother is well-respected in Mountainair. “In the Mountainair area, he is considered a hero. Whenever they talk about chief of police his name is at the top of the list. He treats people fairly and he catches the criminals.”
As a family man, Dennis Fulfer said he modeled himself after his older brother. “Just the way he was raising his two boys was an inspiration to me. He showed me what it means to be a father.”
Watching Brenda Fulfer talk about her husband, it is obvious she adores him. Asked what her favorite thing about him is, she replied, “Everything!”
She said they have been married seven years, “not long enough.” She describes her husband as a dedicated family man, who loves his stepkids as his own and would come home from a long shift as a deputy and jump right in with the kids. “He’s full of dedication when it comes to his work and his family,” Brenda Fulfer said. “And when it comes to his grandkids—he loves his babies.”
“He can’t look at her and say ‘I love you’ without crying,” said Shelley Seale, who is working to put together a benefit dinner and silent auction for the Fulfers. “It was the same thing at their wedding.”
Details for that fundraiser have not yet been finalized.
“Ron Fulfer gave his life to law enforcement as his chosen profession, and he gives to the community,” Duran said. “We all came together. … Everyone is pulling together as a team and as a law enforcement family to give back to someone who gives his all to the community.”
“I’m impressed with the outpouring of support that I’ve seen, particularly on the gofundme page,” Dennis Fulfer said. “I would like to see that continue to grow. Don’t let this be something that ends—let it continue to grow until he’s back on the streets again.”
To make a donation to Brenda and Ron Fulfer’s crowdfunding campaign, visit gofundme.com/hero-needs-kidney. To contact the family directly, call Brenda Fulfer at 505-620-9485.