Most people when setting out for a long-distance run opt for attire that gives them an aerodynamic advantage, but three local law enforcement members are not most people.
Turlock Police Sgt. Neil Cervenka, Modesto Police Detective Sean Dodge, and Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Capt. Jim Gordon are preparing to run in the Peace Officer Memorial half marathon run in Modesto on Sept. 25 and they will be doing it in full duty uniform – from boots to vest.
“All total, my gear is about 25 pounds and it is not evenly distributed,” Cervenka said. “It is going to be an uncomfortable and painful run, but that is the point. We are doing this to raise awareness of those officers that have made the ultimate sacrifice and the families that have suffered their loss. For us the pain is just a few hours, but for them it is a lifetime.”
In addition to raising awareness, the three men are fundraising for the Peace Officer Memorial Group of Stanislaus County. The non-profit group serves to educate the public about officers who have died in the line of duty, to support and assist the families of fallen officers, and to raise awareness of the memorials for fallen officers that exist in Stanislaus County, the State of California and Washington, D.C.
Stanislaus County has had 15 officers die in the line of duty since 1935, including five from the Turlock Police Department.
“These guys are our heroes day in and day out, but what they are doing now is even more amazing,” said Gail Smith, the president of the Peace Officer Memorial Group of Stanislaus County.
The run is the brainchild of Dodge, who was inspired by witnessing an officer complete a marathon in full gear in Folsom earlier this year.
“Running is something I love to do and the idea came to me that this would be something I could do that would raise money for a good cause,” Dodge said. “Then I started working on Neil and later Jim. I’ve done the Baker to Vegas run with them so I know they could do it. There were no excuses.”
The men have a goal of completing the run in about two hours time and generating $10,000 in donations. They have each embarked on their own training schedules, which have included adding in some of the extra weight they will be carrying.
“I’ve been running for some time, but I’m intrigued by how this one will be different,” Gordon said. “It will be a whole different dynamic with the gear.”
Donations to the fundraising effort can be made online at https://www.youcaring.com/peace-officermemorial-group-606728 or through the mail at: The Police Officer Memorial Group of Stanislaus County; P.O. Box 577105; Modesto, CA 95357, with one of the names of the law enforcement runners in the check memo.