My turn

Run unites fallen police officer’s family

2014-03-19T00:00:00Z Run unites fallen police officer’s familyJennifer Pallay Times Columnist nwitimes.com
March 19, 2014 12:00 am  • 

For the Mathews family, the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s Run to Remember is an important time to be together.

This year marks the 10th year for the 5K run, which starts at 8 a.m. May 3 at the Gold Star Families Memorial and Park, just east of Soldier Field. The event includes a timed competition for runners as well as a noncompetitive walk.

Laura Mathews’ husband, John W. Mathews, was killed in the line of duty May 21, 1988, in Hegewisch. She and her husband were both Hegewisch natives and their fathers were partners on the Chicago Police Department.

Laura, their children Anne, 32; Joey, 30; and John, 29; as well as other family members and friends have participated in the Run to Remember the past eight years.

It’s a way to honor her husband’s memory as well as all the fallen officers and working police officers, Laura said.

“While we’re walking, it’s a happy event. There’s a good feeling there,” she said. It helps turn sadness into something productive and brings together families who have lost someone.

“It’s just being all together and being at the memorial site,” she said. The fundraising efforts help the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit group that supports the families of the 567 Chicago Police officers killed in the line of duty as well as those catastrophically injured in the line of duty.

The 3.5-mile run is not bad, Laura said, though she typically walks. “For my kids, it’s nothing.” This year will be the ninth the family has participated.

“It’s a great event. Anybody can participate and it’s a beautiful route along the lakefront. The memorial park is beautiful,” Laura said.

Her son Joey Mathews, a former Marine and now a Cicero Fire Department firefighter, said when his co-workers found out about the run this year, they approached him and asked if they could join his team and fundraise with him.

“It’s not something I’d ask them to do because I’m not that type of person,” he said. “When they asked me if they could, I was blown away.”

Joey Mathews said his father and both of his grandfathers were Chicago police officers. His aunt is also a law enforcement officer.

“I’m the first firefighter in the family. It’s certainly a deep law enforcement sort of family. I’m the first one to go to the other side.”

This year, he plans to run with his Fire Department and then run back to find his family and walk the rest of the way with them.

The team name is Mathews 9827, which was his father’s badge number. Donations can be made online by searching for the team name at cpdmemorial.org/run.

Checks payable to the CPD Memorial Foundation can be mailed to 1407 W. Washington Blvd., Chicago, IL 60607.

“My dad was killed when I was 4 years old. My sister was 6. My brother was 3. It’s just to remember, especially at the end when you see the pictures of all these officers.”

He has met many families through the organization and said it’s important to be there for them as well as any new families to let them know they are not alone.

John Mathews, 29, will also be on team Mathews 9827 this year. He has participated every year even when he was away at college and even last year when he was on crutches and finished last. He plans to run a lot faster this year and said the run is always a good time to get back into exercise.

He said this event is like a holiday and that just like the family always gets together for Christmas and Thanksgiving, he can count on everyone being at the run.

“Going to the event is wonderful. All the police are there … For me, the whole family gets together for it and it’s a fantastic thing for that.”

A favorite family memory of the run is when their Grandpa Partin came dressed in jeans and ran the whole 5K to prove he could.

“It was pretty cool for us because we didn’t think he was going to do it,” John said.

More than 5,000 walkers, runners, police officers, families of fallen officers and supporters of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation are expected to participate this year.

The event also features a junior jog, family friendly after-party, appearances by the Chicago Police Department mounted unit, K-9 unit and helicopter unit as well as a children’s activities area and performances by the Pipes and Drums of the Emerald Society.

The Kids Zone is a fenced area near the start line that is manned by off-duty Chicago police officers. There will be activities like face painters, balloon twisters, organized games and prize giveaways for children 4 and older.

The after party tickets cost $20 and include food, drinks and entertainment. Children 12 and younger are free.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. She can be reached at jpallay14@gmail.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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