DENVER – By 7:15 a.m. Sunday, more than 300 people were registered to run at Washington Park in Denver for the city’s very first Officers Down 5K. Organizers said more than 450 people turned out for the event.
The event website describes the 5K as one that celebrates officers who put their lives on the line every day and honors those men and women who have died in the line of duty.
5K founder TJ Burke has a personal connection to law enforcement. He started his career in 2009 and wanted to give back in another way. He organized the Officers Down 5K in 2011.
Burke said the event went national in 2015 -- being hosted by 25 other states. Burke said he has plans to take the event overseas to the UK and Brazil by the end of 2017.
“The mission and goal behind it is just to bring everyone together for just ‘a day,’ rather than waiting until an officer is killed in the line of duty,” Burke said about the event.
Burke called the turnout incredible -- calling the energy of the day uplifting, “This is not a memorial event. This is a day where we’re just coming together -- celebrating and supporting those in blue.”
Denver7 caught up with Andy Rinne, the first runner to cross the finish line. He made the trip from Colorado Springs.
When asked about what brought him out, Rinne said, “A lot has happened, obviously in the last year or so. So, it’s good to be able to show and support what really happens.”
Organizers teamed up with Colorado State FOP and the Colorado Police Officers Foundation. Money raised will be split between the 5K and its partners.
The message behind Sunday’s event hit closer to home for other guests. Breana Martinez said her dad has been a police officer for 20 years. She said any opportunity to support and celebrate law enforcement is awesome.
“This is our chance to humanize the badge and let the community know that police officers have family and friends, and they’re here to protect us and keep our community safe,” said Martinez.
Sunday’s event included a Kids Fun Run, a K9 demonstration by Longmont PD, and a Community Day.
According to the Officer Down Memorial page, 125 officers across U.S. were killed in the line of duty this year. In 2015, the number of fallen officers was 130.
Colorado numbers in 2015 were four- this year alone three officers have died in the line of duty.