A 12-year-old Florida boy paid tribute to fallen Toronto Const. Jeffrey Northrup by lacing up his running shoes.
Zechariah Cartledge, of Winter Springs, Fla., about 25 kilometres north of Orlando, ran 1.6 kilometres in Northrup’s honour at his former elementary school on Monday. The boy, part of the non-profit group, Running 4 Heroes, was accompanied by some first responders, his nine-year-old sister, Chloe, and two patrol cars.
Right before the teenager ran, a bagpiper played O Canada and Amazing Grace.
“We consider you guys (Canadians) great friends and great allies,” said Cartledge.
“We had a great turnout. Even though I’m only 12, I’m very glad to be showing people, especially kids, they can do something great in the world.”
Cartledge, who hopes to be a commercial pilot when he grows up, founded Running 4 Heroes in 2019 to raise funds for the families of first responders after he ran a five-kilometre race with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
“I was inspired by all these responders in their full gear running with me during the run,” he said.
“And I was 10-years-old and very curious that they were there. So I looked up the foundation and once I found out they honoured 9/11 heroes who lost their lives during 9/11, that really kind of inspired me.”
Running 4 Heroes sees Cartledge run 1.6 kilometres (one mile) for every first responder killed on duty and afterwards he sends the family of the deceased a handwritten note and a flag — in Northrup’s case, a blue-line Canadian flag that he ran with.
“Const. Northrup’s family should be getting the flag and a personalized note very soon,” said Cartledge.
“We’ve had the Toronto Police station where he worked contact us, and they said the family’s going to be getting the flag very soon and the family’s very comforted to receive it.”
Heroes 4 Life also gives out $10,000 a month to one injured first responder in the U.S. and Cartledge says Canadians can now apply, too.
Northrup, a 31-year police veteran, was intentionally struck by a vehicle, according to investigators, while responding to a robbery-turned-stabbing in City’s Hall’s underground parking on July 2.