WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) – The women wore blue as they gathered outside the Westerville Police Department and City Hall in the dark hours before sunrise.
As groups across central Ohio raise money for the families of two officers killed in the line of duty, the women of Moms Run This Town and She Runs This Town chose to show their support by running in memory of Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering on Wednesday morning.
Close to 100 runners crowded together at 5am Wednesday, wearing light-up vests and dressed for the cold temperatures.
“We’re out here at 5 a.m. because we normally run at 5 a.m. We usually meet across the street,” said Anna Guillozet.
Guillozet is a pastor in Westerville and a member of Moms Run This Town. She said police officers are always on the lookout for runners’ safety, especially early in the morning or late at night.
“We always know that when we run, whenever we pass an officer, or they pass us on the run, we know they’re watching out for us,” Guillozet said.
“They are always around,” Lisa Beck, another runner, said. “And you just know that they’ve got your back and we want to make sure they know that we have theirs.”
Beck, who said her brother is a retired police officer, said she felt like this tragedy hit close to home.
“I think as moms and sisters and daughters in this group, we always feel that kind of connection to a tragedy like this,” Beck said.
After a prayer led by Guillozet and a grou photo, the runners hit the streets for a 3.2-mile run through Westerville, before returning to the police department.
The goal wasn’t a personal best for these runners-just a show of love and support.
“We just think about moms whose lives are going to be radically different and the kids that they’ll raise, and so we just want to stand in solidarity with them and let them know that we’re always here for them,” Guillozet said.
Many of the runners used GPS to track their routes on smartphone apps. The route, when finished, spelled out a message: “Thank you.” It’s a simple but powerful message these women wanted to convey to the slain officers, and to their colleagues still serving and protecting the community.
Some of the runners also brought cards and messages and said they were taking donations of gift cards, money and flowers to give to the families of those officers. Some also said they were hoping to raise awareness about domestic violence.