Twenty-fifth District Police Capt. Javier Rodriguez never liked running, not even when he was regularly lacing up while serving in the Marines. So when he learned at a meeting that fellow officers were going to participate in the 2019 Philly Love Run Half-Marathon, he said, “I’ll support you in any way I can, but not as a runner. I could never run a half-marathon.”
He changed his mind when a meeting attendee, who was sick with cancer, said she was planning to compete in the run, whose proceeds benefit Legacy of Hope, which funds cancer treatment and research.
“I thought, ‘If this person, who’s going through so much, can run while she’s sick, the least I can do is run when I’m well,'" said Rodriguez. He trained through the winter with Police Community Relations Officer Ryan Barksdale, based in the 25th District; Sgt. Joshua Perez of the Philly Sheriff’s Office, a buddy of Rodriguez’s since middle school; and Sgt. Jim Graber of the 16th District, a Navy veteran and seasoned runner.
Said Graber, “I told Javier, ‘We’ll do this race together, step for step, stride for stride — the sailor and the Marine.’”
Perez and Barksdale see the race as the embodiment of goodwill between law enforcement and the people they protect and serve.
“Cancer affects every community,” said Perez, “and our job is to be there for the community. The race is an extension of that.”