A Sebastopol family has set the goal to run one mile for every officer who has died in the line of duty this year.
Since mid-June, Tabitha Cornish and her 11-year-old twins Cash and Sidnie are in the midst of running 65 miles for the current figure of 65 officers who have died.
The trio has been completing one-mile loops each almost every day at various police agencies and departments across Marin and Sonoma counties.
After Cornish runs the one-mile with the twins, she completes another two miles.
“We honor four officers for the four miles we run,” the athletic mom explained.
And while the family doesn’t have any personal or familial connection to public safety, Cornish said the idea to start the run stemmed from hearing officer deaths in the news and from the families’ fundraising work for other groups such as veterans.
“I’m connected to the news a lot and I got an alert that an officer was killed in Missouri. He was the 59th officer, and we’re always thinking of how we can give back and honor our heroes. The kids put together a fundraiser on their own a couple of years ago where we honored our veterans and they raised $3,400 … we did a fundraiser for K-9 Companions, and I was saying, ‘How can we honor these officers?’” Cornish said.
She said they thought they shouldn’t do another fundraiser since not everyone can always contribute.
“So we thought that we could run for the officers,” Cornish said.
The family knew they didn’t want to run 59 miles (the figure at the time for officer deaths) in one fell swoop.
“That would be way too much,” Cash said.
“We knew that one mile would be manageable and rather than just honor the officers as collective group who have been killed in the line of duty we thought that it would be really neat and special if we ran one mile every day to honor every single individual,” Cornish said.
During each run, the three carry a sign with the name of the person they are running for, how they died and which agency they worked for.
“It is unusual for people to express their support like that. We really appreciate it,” said Sebastopol police officer Cameron Fenske.
The group started their paces in Windsor and Windsor Deputy Larry Matelli went along with them for the first run.
From there, they went to the Sebastopol, Cotati, Petaluma and Santa Rosa Police departments. They also went to the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety and Healdsburg, San Rafael, and Novato police departments as well as the Marin County Sheriff’s Office.
On the Fourth of July, they ran to honor Newman Police Officer Ronil Singh, who was killed on Dec. 26.
On July 5, Cornish was at the California Highway Patrol in Rohnert Park and ran two miles with CHP Lt. Diana Johnson.
Johnson said she has never seen any tribute like this.
“We do garner community support, but this is very unique. It’s really special,” Johnson said.
On a separate occasion, they also ran with Officer Kimberly Lemons and Officer Morgan Blanchard.
Cornish said the goal of the project is to simply honor officers for their work.
“We want to try and bring awareness to just how great and necessary they are, and that’s what this is about,” she said.
Cornish said, “This has been an amazing experience. It’s been awful because we’ve learned so much about who these officers were and how they were killed … but it brings everything to reality, it makes them real.”
Cash said the runs are a bit tiring but that seeing everybody makes it rewarding.
He said it makes him feel sad hearing about an officer who’s died, but doing the run makes him feel better. Sidnie pointed out it’s sad because if an officer dies, then someone is left without a sister, or a brother, or a husband.
On Sunday, July 7, the Cornish family did their miles in Cloverdale starting from the Cloverdale Police Department.
Next, they will head back to the Cotati Police Department and the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety where officers will join them in the run.
Cornish said they would continue to run for every officer killed this year.
Want to follow them along on their runs? Follow or search for the #2019FallenOfficerTribute on Facebook to find out where they’ll be next.