ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Lorraine Yaslowitz says she runs to relieve stress over the loss of her husband, K-9 Officer Jeff Yaslowitz, killed in the line of duty in January, 2011. And she says she runs to connect to him, too.
"It doesn't make me sad, necessarily," Lorraine says. "It's a reminder that our bodies are temporary, and we should work it and suffer a little bit and sacrifice something because later you're going to sit back and relax and feel better."
On Sunday, Lorraine ran with more than 1,000 other athletes, some young, others old. Some were friends, but many were strangers. But they all came together at North Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg to show support for law enforcement officers at the second annual Police Appreciation Run, founded by Lorraine as a tribute to her husband as well as Sergeant Tom Baitinger and Officer Dave Crawford.
Last year, members of Officer Yaslowitz's SWAT team ran alongside Jeff's father, Harvey, who told ABC Action News that he was driven by his faith, and that he'd see his son again some day. Not long after the inaugural Police Appreciation Run, Harvey passed away. On Sunday, the SWAT team remembered Harvey as well.
"We promised him he'd always be a part of our team so to keep him with us this year we added a little something to the back of the shirt," explains SWAT team member David Gerardo. "Harvey was a man of faith so we put a icthus fish on the shirt and a Bible verse to remember Harvey by this year."
The money raised during Sunday's Officer Jeff Yaslowitz 10K Run, Sergeant Tom Baitinger 5K Run and Officer Dave Crawford 1-mile Walk to Remember will benefit the Partners for Life Foundation, a charity started by Lorraine Yaslowitz to help the families of those killed be senseless acts of violence.
Florida Road Races Director Chris Lauber, who has helped Lorraine organize the Police Appreciation Run both years, says after the funds are tallied he expects $20,000 to go to the foundation.