Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Georgia Teen Runs To Support Law Enforcement

MacKenna Gosart, a 13 year old runner from Georgia, is proving that age is not a factor when it comes to supporting the law enforcement community.

Gosart, who runs cross-country for her school, spent the month of January 2015 running one mile for each law enforcement officer who died in the line of duty in 2014 -- a total of 118 miles for the 118 officers whose watch ended last year.  She was inspired by her father, who works in law enforcement in Clayton County (GA), when she heard him discussing the line of duty deaths with a friend.

When family and friends learned about MacKenna's tribute, they wanted to help too.  Pledges and donations came in from all over, and by the end of the month, MacKenna had raised $11,000.  She donated that money to ODMP partner Armor of God, a non-profit organization that provides ballistic vests to law enforcement officers whose departments cannot issue them to every officer, and who often cannot afford the costly item on their own.

Clint Reck, the founder and director of Armor of God and a Captain with the Muscle Shoals (Alabama) Police Department said he was amazed and speechless when he got the call from MacKenna's father.

"I truly believe there are two things that will never change in Law Enforcement. The first is our mission to protect and serve our communities and fellow citizens -- a mission that has grown more dangerous each and every day," says Reck.  "The second is our commitment to working as a team to accomplish that mission. It is amazing for a teenager to be so focused on helping law enforcement officers across the country stay safe."

With the money from MacKenna, Reck says that Armor of God has already been able to send over 100 vests out to officers in need -- an average of 20 vests each week. The funds also helped cover the cost of shipping a large number of vests donated by the High Point (North Carolina) Police Department.   In addition, MacKenna's donation enabled Armor of God to incorporate and file for their 501(c)3, making their status as a non-profit official.  They've also started work on the creation of a new website that will streamline the process through which officers request and donate vests. 

And now, the Officer Down Memorial Page is proud to count MacKenna Gosart as a member of the National Police Week 5K  Virtual Team.  The NPW5K, hosted by ODMP, takes place in Washington DC during National Police Week in May each year. 

Since MacKenna will still be in the middle of her cross-country season, she can't make it to DC.  Instead, she'll be running a virtual 5K in Georgia, and helping, once again, to raise funds to support law enforcement.

MacKenna ran her first 5K with her dad when she was about seven years old.   "It wasn't a great showing, but it was a start to a great running journey," she says.  "When I run, I can escape from any stress or pressure that is bothering me, and it just makes me feel good. The race bling is an added bonus!"

And just how much does she run?  MacKenna says, "I run about 25-30 miles a week if I'm in training, but no less than 3 miles, 6 days a week during the off season. I'm not sure exactly how many races I've run, but if I had to guess, I'd say I've run about thirty 5Ks since I was seven.  I also run 10K and 15K races, and I'm going to run a 10-Miler and 1/2 Marathon this fall."

When asked what made her want to use her talent to support law enforcement, MacKenna said, "There are so many people in this world that don't realize what our men and women in blue do for us every day. They work long hours, for little pay, and it's a dangerous job. My dad has been in law enforcement for 6 years and I've seen the effects of this daily task. These courageous officers deserve so much more respect than what they get.  I just thought I could help."

ODMP is proud to have MacKenna on our Virtual 5K team. 

If you'd like to donate to MacKenna's fundraising page, click here.