A group of law enforcement officers from Boonville, Blue Springs, MO and Cooper County gathered Wednesday, March 27 at the Katy Trailhead in Boonville for the start of the sixth day of officer Keegan Hughes cross-state run commemorating fallen first responders.
Officer Hughes’ runs, in full police uniform, as part of the 501(c)(3), non-profit Project Remember and featured stops in Easley, McBaine, New Franklin, Rocheport and Boonville as he carried a game ball for the Kansas City Royals season opening weekend. The full 260-mile course of Hughes’s run spanned from St. Charles to Kansas City with each stop highlighted by a ceremony to remember the lives of Missouri first responders who died in the line of duty.
“Each day we will be honoring a fallen hero as we cross the state carrying a flag in their honor to be presented to their family,” stated a release from Lieutenant Steve Decker of the Blue Springs Police Department, who is one of officers riding alongside Hughes during his run.
The fifth day of Hughes journey concluded in Boonville on Tuesday, March 27 with a ceremony dedicated to Columbia Firefighter Bruce Britt. The sixth day of the run, Wednesday, March 28, began with a memorium and prayer to fallen Clinton, MO police officers Gary Michael and Christopher Morton. Though families of the officers were not on-hand, Hughes assured that they were eagerly awaiting his arrival and flag presentation at the finish line in Kansas City.
The final portion of the run will honor Kansas City firefighters Larry Leggio and John Mesh, who died battling a fire in 2015. Upon his arrival at Kauffman Stadium, the game ball carried by Hughes on his run will be delivered to Independence Police Officer Tom Wagstaff for the game’s ceremonial first pitch. Wagstaff is celebrating the one-year anniversary of his recovery from a traumatic gunshot wound to his head, which occured in the live of duty.
Along the route, Hughes’ run aimed to raise money for Answering the Call, a Kansas City-based charity which raised money to support officers injured during their service and the families of fallen officers. Hughes’ goal is to raise $25,000 for Answering the Call, which donates all money raised directly to its cause. At the time of his stop in Boonville, over $10,000 of the goal was met by over 125 donations. 
“It’s a one hundred percent charity,” explained Hughes, “That means, board members, nobody takes any money for themselves. Everything that we take in is given to an officer or first first responder family in a time of need.”
Hughes began his involvement with Project Remember five years ago when he began participating in Ironman 70.3 Triathlons to gain better physical condition after a realization he was 55 pounds overweight and in need of a lifestyle change.
“One day, I woke up and finishing wasn’t good enough anymore,” said Hughes, “I needed to do it in honor of something for a purpose. So I started putting on the uniform when I did the running portions. So here I am, five years later running across The State of Missouri.”
Hughes admits that each day of running becomes more challenging but he takes constant inspiration from honoring the fallen first responders for which he and his support team are running and riding as part of Project Remember and for Answering the Call.
Project Remember was established in 2017 by a California police officer named Sean Dodge to commemorate fallen first responders. Dodge sought officers who had participated in 5K runs and races in full uniform to join him in running the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon held annually in Washington D.C.
Those interested in Project Remember are encouraged to visit http://projectremember.ngo/. For more information and to donate to Hughes’ Answering the Call run are encouraged to do so online at  https://www.youcaring.com/answeringthecall-1057664.