It was a challenge they couldn’t turn down after working with Constable John Zivcic in 22 Division.
A group of four 22 Division officers is running as part of this year’s National Peace Officers Memorial Run, alongside hundreds of law enforcement members and the families of fallen officers.
The annual relay run started in Toronto at the Ontario Police Memorial on September 22 and ends three days later at Parliament Hill in Ottawa where the National Peace Officers Memorial annual ceremony will be held on Sunday, Sept. 25.
Det. Stephen Laramy was on the same platoon with Zivcic, who died on duty after a collision in late 2013, while responding to a call for service.
“John worked on my shift and I saw him just hours before he was involved in that crash,” Laramy recalled. “I have been to several police funerals, but that was the first one with someone from my platoon and it hit home. As the kilometres pile up on the second and third day of the relay run, and the body begins to ache, I think about John and the other officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
This is the fourth year Laramy is participating in the relay run, inviting Det. Jong Dong to take up the challenge this year.
“It was an eye-opener the first year to see everybody coming together for a common and great cause,” Laramy said. “It was such a good feeling to get together for something that’s so worthwhile.”
Four officers from 22 Division took part in this year’s run.
“It was a little bit tough the first time I did it last year, but I had a lot of fun,” said Laura Foulds, of the Division’s Major Crime Unit. “I also knew John and that really provided me with the impetus to do it last year and again this year.”
A co-worker encouraged 53 Division Constable Natalia Constantinescu to run for the first time, four years ago.
“It was a great opportunity get out there and a good way to remember those fallen officers,” she said. “It was such an incredible feeling when we got to Parliament Hill. It was something I never experienced before. The public support is absolutely surreal and you could feel it. I will never forget that and I look forward to that part every year.
Constable Laurie McCann was doing a paid duty at the GoodLife Fitness half-marathon in 2013, when Constable Andrew Rosbrook collapsed face down on Lake Shore Blvd. W., near the 20-kilometre mark.
She performed CPR on the 53 Division officer before paramedics arrived with a defibrillator.
After spending three days in hospital recovering from a cardiac arrest, Rosbrook – who was clinically dead for seven minutes – was back running a month later.
“Andrew is a huge supporter of this relay run and I had always wanted to do it,” said McCann. “It’s a very reflective run and very personal for me in the sense that I was a close friend of Todd Baylis (he died in the line of duty on June 17, 1994). I grew up on the same street with him in Brampton and he was a well-loved person. In high school, everybody wanted to be Todd’s friend.”
McCann has worn an armband with Baylis' name each year she has participated in the run.
Beginning at the Ontario Police Memorial at Queen’s Park, Service members joined other officers in the 460-kilometre run to Ottawa.
"I know each of you has various goals in your mind for your runs but, regardless of those individual goals and abilities, be reminded of your overall objective to reach the memorial wall on Parliament Hill together,” said Staff Superintendent Randy Patrick of Peel Regional Police. “Remember, this is not a race. Instead, it’s a journey of remembrance.”
Toronto Chief Mark Saunders joined several senior officers from across the province who attended this year’s opening ceremony.
“Each and every day, we, we ask our men and women in law enforcement to go out there and try to make a positive difference in all the communities that they serve in,” he said. “Sometimes, things don’t go the way we want them to go and, unfortunately, some of us don’t return home. That’s why we are here. We are here to remember that and those who have fallen in the line of duty. I come here every year and it’s a sober reminder to me of the selflessness of the men and women in uniform for what they do.”
A total of 63 Toronto Police Service officers took part in this year’s memorial run. They wore armbands with the 41 names of fallen TPS officers carved into the granite wall of honour at the Ontario Police Memorial.
“Those are not just names,” Saunders said, pointing to the wall. “Those are heroes in life, not death.”
The memorial run was launched in 2005 to create awareness of the police and peace officers memorial service in Ottawa on the last Sunday of September, and to raise money for trust funds and memorials established in memory of police officers who have died in the line of duty.
Nearly $232,000 in donations have been made since the run started with 24 Peel Regional Police participants.