GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.--A great loss to the grand rapids police department continues to be remembered six years later with an annual run. Andrew Rusticus passed away in 2012 while training for the department’s K9 division. Saturday he was remembered and funds were raised in his honor.
"He was training to become a k9 officer and passed away about six years ago on a training run for that" says Alex Rusticus, Andy's younger brother.
So it only seemed right to create a run in his honor involving the animals Andrew Rusticus so dearly loved. Andrew lost his life back in 2012 when he had a heart attack while training for a K9 division position, he was only 29.
"We thought what better way to hold an event in his memory that would include the dogs and include the police and be something that could support both," says Jeremy Rusticus, Andy's older brother.
For the fifth year Andrew was honored with the annual 3k, 9k, and K9 run, raising money for charities he cared so deeply about.
"As part of the run the money goes to the Andrew Elliot Rusticus foundation as part of that we support the Grand Rapids canine foundation, as well as the thin blue line of Michigan and we also fund a scholarship at Andy's Alma Mater, which is Trinity Christian college," says Tony Leonard, GRPD officer and run co organize.
More than 350 people come out for the event..many of them bringing their furry friend For his family and close friends, it was a day that they say Andrew would have loved and appreciated.
"He would say this is too much. He wouldn't want this. He was such a humble man," says Leonard.
"We try to make it an event that's a family friendly event one that anybody can come out to run, walk, bring your dog, don't bring your dog, bring your kids or whoever you would like and some of the comments that they share usually are just the warmth," says Rusticus.
One of his daughters, who was just three when he passed away, was joyously in attendance and wanted to leave all who attended with a special message.
"Thank you and we'll see you next year at the K9K," Baylee Rusticus, Andy's daughter says.
Andrew's family says over the years the event has grown but this year was even better than previous ones, including that there were more sponsors and vendors this year. Helping them to raise even more money for K9 handlers like Andrew and families of fallen police officers.