ORLANDO, Fla. — A 10-year-old boy from the Orlando, Florida area ran a mile in honor of fallen Maine State Police detective Ben Campbell Wednesday night as part of a tradition of showing respect and raising money for first responders who die in the line of duty.
Zechariah Cartledge started running one mile every time a first responder died in the line of duty after gaining respect for police officers, firefighters, and military members when he ran alongside them dressed in full gear for the Tunnels to Towers 5K to honor those who died during 9/11.
He ran to honor detective Campbell Wednesday night. About six officers from different Florida agencies joined him.
He typically carries a Blue Line flag and wears his Tunnels to Towers t-shirt when running. He mailed that flag to a family friend of Campbell's, who plans to give it his family.
His goal is to run 150 miles for the 150 first responders who died in the line of duty in 2018. His goal is to raise $100 for each officer to donate to Tunnels to Towers. The foundation helps first responder families who have lost a loved one pay off mortgages or build new homes for them.
He has already surpassed his $15,000 goal, raising more than $35,000.
"What I've said to people is that if you want to somebody or something, do it with your passion. My passion is running" said Cartledge. "I think that's the best way to honor them."
Zechariah's 2019 Run Tracker:
Overall Miles Run in 2019: 79
Total Miles Run for 2019 fallen LEO's (as of 4/3): 31
Total Miles Run for 2018 fallen LEO's (as of 3/30): 41
Total Miles Run for 2019 fallen Firefighters (as of 4/2): 7
Total Officers Honored (as of 3/25): 72 Officers
Total Firefighters Honored (as of 3/26): 7 Firefighters
"It heartbreaks me because I don't know them, but the family and the department know them or him or her and I know wherever it's at, it really heartbreaks them," said Cartledge. "They're true heroes in the community. It makes me sad when I hear they've passed away from a gunshot wound. People are just not respecting them in the way they should."