Oak Grove police officer raises funds for fallen officers and their families while running in full uniform at the Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon with Ivy Funds

officerA Police officer encompasses strength, safety, pride and duty – but what if it could embody something more, like representing fallen officers and their families?  A nine-year veteran on the Oak Grove Police Department, Detective Keegan Hughes does just that.

Hughes shows support to fallen officers and their families by participating in running events in full police uniform on behalf of The Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund (S.A.F.E.).

“This is my first year raising money for S.A.F.E.,” said Hughes.  “I found out about S.A.F.E because our local Fraternal Order of Police Chapter and most in the Metro supported them.”

S.A.F.E. was created in Detroit in 1952 after the fatal shooting of a young Detroit Police officer.  William M. Packer, a friend of the Police Commissioner encouraged 100 people to donate to a fund for the fallen officer.  Pack and the Commissioner then met the officer’s wife to review her finances and to not only pay off their bills, but to create an education account for their unborn child.

Hughes’ inspiration for running to raise money for S.A.F.E. first came in October of 2012 when he watched the Ironman World Championships (Ironman is a 140.3 mile triathlon) on television and saw fireman Rob Verhelst, aka “Fireman Rob” walk across the finish line in full firefighter gear.  His second inspiration came on December 16, 2013 when Topeka Police Officer Jeff Atherly and Corporal David Gogian were killed in the line of duty.

“At that point I knew what I needed to do,” said Hughes.  “It was time to combine my passion for triathlons with my desire to honor fallen officers and to support the families of fallen officers by raising donations for S.A.F.E.”

The eagerness for Hughes to become a police officer came in 1999 when he attended college at Western Missouri State University.  Shortly after, in 2002, he went on to attend school at the Blue River Community College Police Academy.  He felt intrigued about helping people in the community and trying to right the world of the wrong.

Prior to Hughes joining the police world he was very active.  He built his foundation of running by playing soccer at a young age.  His ability to run only became serious recently when he began training three years ago for his first triathlon for S.A.F.E.

The first race Hughes participated in for S.A.F.E was the New Orleans Ironman 70.3 (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run).  It was the week after the Boston marathon bombing, which held special meaning to Hughes.

Officer“The great thing about this race was that security was at an all-time high for these types of events so there were about four cops on every block for the last two miles,” said Hughes.  “They were great – cheering me on and giving me high fives.”

Hughes’ other main factor in getting involved with running was to get back in shape.  Since he began his training for the Ironman 70.3, he has lost over 50 pounds.  By the time he reaches the Kansas City Marathon, he will have run an incredible six half-marathons.

This year, the Kansas City Marathon is Hughes’ first full marathon and event without having to swim or bike first.  It’s also the next step in training for a full-distance Ironman.

As Hughes spreads inspiration and motivation through his running, he gains attention and recognition by running in his police uniform.  Running in full police uniform is a symbolic way for Hughes to show his support for the fallen officers and their families and to raise awareness for S.A.F.E.’s cause.

“The first reaction I always get to running in my uniform is shock,” said Hughes.  “I receive a great response once people understand why I do this – the positivity motivates me even more.”

Not only has Hughes received support with fans, but from the athletes participating with him, too.  During the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon he met an athlete on the course who ran the course the entire way alongside him.

“I was moved by his support,” said Hughes.  “I helped him reach his goal of finishing in less than six hours and he helped me to keep focus on the run and to finish strong with my personal record of finishing the Half Ironman distance triathlon 26 minutes farther than before.”

Hughes has run in his fair share of races, but proclaims the Rev3 Branson to be among his favorites; however, he has other hopes for his top five races that he would love to run, which include: Any triathlon near a beach, the New York City Marathon, the Boston Marathon, the Kansas City Marathon and the Ironman World Championships.

Officer Keegan Hughes is the true definition of unstoppable.  He undoubtedly goes above and beyond what the true meaning of a police officer is by providing awareness and hope to S.A.F.E.  If you believe you have the ability to go above and beyond than visit Officer Keegan Hughes’ website www.policemankeegan.com to learn more about how to donate and support this great cause.  Donations are 100 percent tax deductible and go directly to the charities.

By LaRenn DiPede, Marketing Intern