Last night, I drove by my park and saw them setting up for a race.
As soon as I saw the faces of who it was for, I knew I had to run it. So I woke up this morning, not at all ready to run, and braced myself for the inaugural Police Appreciation Run.
For those of you who don't know, on 1/24 and 2/21, three St Petersburg Police Department officers were killed in the line of duty. These events hit me very hard, and I have done my best to show my support of SPPD as much as I could since.
This race was coordinated by Lorraine Yaslowitz, the wife of one of the fallen officers.
I watched the K-9 Officer Jeff Yaslowitz 10K, where a 15 year old kid blew away the field. The most incredible moment came as the SPPD SWAT team ran in cadence, led by Harvey Yaslowitz, the father of Jeff.
Then came time for my race, the Sergeant Tom Baitinger 5K, and ran pretty well considering at 8:30 AM it was already HOT.
10th in age group (out of 27)
170th Overall (out of 512)
Officer Yas' K-9 vehicle. Ace was freaking out in the back.
Harvey Yaslowitz and his wife,
parents of Jeff Yaslowitz
"I'd rather have a live coward than a dead hero
but God had other plans...
I know we'll be ok,
and I know I'll see my son again"
Lorraine Yaslowitz, wife of Jeff Yaslowitz
"This is heaven- this is what Jeff
is feeling ten-fold...
Thank you all for being a part of it."
After the award ceremony, the morning concluded with the Officer Dave Crawford 1 Mile Walk to Remember. This was a chance to reflect and a short walk to remember the acts of the brave officers.
During the walk, I got to share a few moments with Harvey Yaslowitz. I thanked him for his son's service, and told him that ever since his son died, I have worn this bracelet. I haven't taken it off in 4 months. And I will continue to wear it with pride for as long as I can.
He told me that it is words like those that lift him up and keep him strong.
I will never forget that conversation.
The faith and strength of Harvey, Lorraine, the entire Yaslowitz family, and all of the families of the officers are so admirable and inspiring.
Stay strong. And we'll never forget.
"Baitinger and Yaslowitz - EOW 1-24-11"
Officer David Crawford - EOW 2-21-11