A Florida boy, who has run over 1,000 miles since he started his nonprofit as a way to pay tribute to fallen officers, put his sneakers to the pavement for his cause at Grenada Lake.
Twelve-year-old Zechariah Cartledge made his way to Grenada Saturday morning and was joined by local first responders with the Grenada County Sheriff’s Office, Grenada Police Department, Grenada Fire Department and MedStat EMS for a one-mile run at Grenada Lake.
The 2021 Mississippi Tribute Run presented the Cartledge’s Running 4 Heroes, Inc.
“I’m honoring all fallen first responders lost in the line of duty in the great State of Mississippi,” Cartledge said. “Our first responders do so much for us and I want them to know they are appreciated. This is my first time in Mississippi and since it was first documented in 1990, Mississippi has lost over 375 first responders. That’s 310 police officers and 65 firefighters.”
Prior to the run, Cartledge met with local first responders and shook their hands before taking off.
“He has a bright future ahead of him,” Sheriff Rolando Fair said. “This is a very important cause and very dear to all of our hearts.”
Since January 2019, an ambitious and determined Cartledge, has been running a mile for every First Responder that has fallen in the line of duty. His motivation is to honor the First Responders who paid the ultimate price and to raise money for his non-profit organization.
Since then his ambition and motivation have stayed strong since he discovered the First Responder community.
Before each run, Zechariah pulls out his fact sheet about the fallen First Responder and says a quick prayer. He then runs while carrying a Thin Blue Line flag, which he later sends to the respective families of the fallen First Responder.
For Cindy Willis, who helped organize the event in Grenada, it was bittersweet in bringing Cartledge to run here. She praised the 12-year-old for his efforts and kept two county volunteer firemen who died in the past year in her memory.
“The first was Michael “Sledgehammer” Austin who died last September after battling cancer and the other was Colton Perry, who recently died in an ATV accident,” Willis said. A loss of a first responder leaves a void that can only be filled by the memories they leave behind. That is why Zechariah’s mission to remember them is so important.”
Following his run in Grenada, Cartledge ran one mile in DeSoto County for a Memphis police officer who was killed Saturday morning at 11 a.m. MPD officer Darrell Adams, 34, was struck by an 18-wheeler while investigating a crash that morning. After running in Grenada, Cartledge organized a run in Lewisburg, a Memphis suburb.