Run/walk to honor fallen officer
Updated: Wednesday, April 17 2013, 08:42 AM EDT
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – The Kalamazoo community will honor a fallen officer in a special way this weekend.
Two years ago this week, KDPS officer Eric Zapata was shot and killed in the line of duty.
Zapata was the first officer killed on the job in Kalamazoo County since the 1800s.
On Saturday morning, the Eric Zapata Memorial Foundation will host a 5k run/walk to encourage people to remember his sacrifice.
“I think Eric is looking down smiling,” says Zapata’s mom, Connie Bernal. “He's happy, he's very happy.”
Bernal came out to watch the very first race in her son's honor last April.
“When I came here, I found out all the wonderful things he’s done and how many lives he’s touched,” Bernal told NewsChannel 3 after the race last year. “This allows us to keep his memory alive, bringing people together.”
Craig Stouffer, Vice President of the Eric Zapata Memorial Foundation adds, “It brings us back as a community to remember our purpose in life. It brings us back to see his family. And most importantly, it helps us appreciate our own lives.”
Stouffer says nearly 700 people participated in the 5k last year.
“Last year we had kind of an emotional bubble because it was still fresh in everyone’s mind,” Stouffer says. “But the long-term objective of our foundation is to provide law enforcement scholarships to police academy cadets.”
Friends and family say the memorial race is exactly what Zapata would have wanted: a community coming together for the greater good.
“It’s a really good cause,” Stouffer concludes. “And it also helps the Zapata family remember that we still care about them.”
Last year the EZ 5k brought in 25,000 dollars.
You can register online until 5pm on Wednesday: http://www.ezmemorialrun.org/5k-walk-run. You can also register at KVCC Thursday from 4-7pm. Or you can show up at KVCC at 7am the day of the race to register then.
One lucky participant will win an iPad this year.
The 5k begins at 9am on Saturday at KVCC.
For more information, click here: http://www.ezmemorialrun.org/.