LABELLE — On the evening of Monday, June 15, friends of Keen gathered at Barron Park to run together.
This honor run came about when LaBelle resident Sallie Aguirre shared an Facebook announcement about a run in honor of Officer Julian Keen, from Running 4 Heroes, Inc. The announcement said, “Run Announcement 3 - Mile 527: Tomorrow Night (Monday, 6/15) at 8:30PM ET (Weather Permitting), Zechariah will run 1-mile carrying the his flag in honor of fallen MyFWC Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Wildlife Officer Julian Keen, Jr.”
In central Florida, Zechariah Cartledge ran three miles, one mile each, in honor of Jefferson Hills Borough Police Department Officer Dale Provins, US Border Patrol Agent Johan Mordan, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Wildlife Officer Julian Keen, Jr, three fallen heroes.
“Our First Responders do so much for us. I want to let them know they are appreciated. These families sacrifice more than we will ever know. If I can bring even a little joy back into their lives, it is worth it all. They are the reason I run,” explained Zechariah.
“Running 4 Heroes started with a kid, an appreciation for our First Responders, and a mission to raise awareness and funds for those fallen in the line of duty. Donations received go towards purchasing flags, which Zechariah runs with. Honoring those who sacrifice it all, each flag is presented to the family of the fallen, after a run is complete. Running 4 Heroes also uses donations to provide financial relief to injured First Responders and their families,” the website said.
While 11-year-old Zecheariah ran his 3 miles in Central Florida, local law enforcement officers and first responders gathered in LaBelle. Proudly displaying their flags,blue lights flashing in the distance, nearly 100 local runners and walkers joined them, to celebrate Officer Keen’s life. They traveled under the bridge, down Main Street to Hwy 80, and back.
“Zechariah Cartledge was born with the gift of running,” said a family member. “He was raised with an appreciation for First Responders, and all they do for the community. As he grew older, Zechariah decided to help the families of our fallen First Responders in a meaningful way. Encouraged by the mission and vision of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Zechariah began his journey raising funds for those families by running.”
Run for Heroes thanked Florida Fish and Wildlife and US Border Patrol, for their support during Zechariah’s run. “Thanks as well to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Maitland Police Department - Florida, the Sanford Police Department, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Highway Patrol and the Lake Mary Police Department for having units out tonight,” Running for Heroes, Inc. posted on their Facebook page.
A Julian Keen Memorial Scholarship has been set up, and contributions can be made at all First Bank locations. Make checks payable to SW Florida Heroes Foundation, Inc. with a memo as follows: Julian Keen Memorial Scholarship. Contributions can also be mailed to: First Bank . PO Box 697, LaBelle, FL 33975.