Hundreds of runners raise money for police, military families

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A chilly, overcast morning didn’t slow down more than 600 people Sunday who wanted to support the people who keep them safe.

For the last few years, the Swatara Township Police Department has provided that opportunity.

There was a distinct color palette at the Harrisburg Mall: red, white, and blue. Hundreds of runners registered and stretched inside the mall entrance where the department had parked a patrol car alongside superheroes.

“It makes us feel good that we can come out and support them,” said Amy Howard, there with friend Lisa Smith, both from Halifax.

But the pair wasn’t referring to the people in costume; they meant the everyday heroes.

“We’re both Army wives,” Howard said, “so we kind of come from that, and that’s where our inspiration comes.”

The third-annual 5K Hero Run supports military and police families.

“You know, we’ve had a tough year in law enforcement,” Swatara police Chief Jason Umberger said.

The kind of turnout they saw Sunday helps, he said. His officers know people appreciate the hours they spend keeping watch.

“And in many cases laying down their lives to protect those that need protecting,” Umberger said.

“I love running,” said Stacey Niedzwiecki of Dillsburg, “but … if I can do a race that benefits a good organization, especially police who do so much for all of us, it makes it so much more worth it.”

The proceeds benefit three organizations: the Swatara PD’s Crime Prevention Fund; the Keystone Wounded Warriors; and COPS for K.O.P.S, a group that supports the families of fallen police officers in Pennsylvania.

Runners crossed the finish line Sunday morning; the people they were running for know they never will. Theirs is a race that doesn’t end.

“This is a day that we can come together and celebrate the great service that our men and women in law enforcement do,” Umberger said. “Every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

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