ROANOKE, Va. – They came together to run together and their hope is they’ll stay together. A pilot program put kids and officers on the same path: a 3-mile run through Roanoke on Wednesday.
Badge Buddies stretches kids and cops out of their norm. It brings them together to realize we all walk the same path.
“They’ll come up to you and you’re a jungle gym to them, and that’s good. The relationship-building has got to start somewhere,” said Roanoke City Police Deputy Chief Eric Charles.
Ally Bowersack, the owner of RunAbout Sports Roanoke, organized the initiative with the help of Deputy Chief Charles and Retired Roanoke City Police Deputy Chief Monti Lee.
“This is really just the beginning. You have about thirty minutes once a week to chat with a law enforcement officer or community volunteer. It takes a lot more than that to build trust,” stated Bowersock.
This eight-week-long journey started on June 23 and about 16 kids and approximately a dozen officers and volunteers participated.
“It felt like people actually believed in me and I felt like my parents and everyone that believes in me would actually care,” said third-grader Ethan Perdue.
Bowersock plans to form the “Buddies” group again next year.