As Blue Springs Police Officer Keegan Hughes was on a 9-mile run Friday, he pondered how he could help his longtime friend Independence Officer Tom Wagstaff, who was in critical condition after being shot in the head responding to a home invasion.
Then the idea hit him: run a marathon to raise money to help Wagstaff and his family.
A marathon is a 26.2 miles, but Hughes is running this one around the track at Blue Springs High School.
One hundred and five laps. Dressed in his full police uniform — 20 pounds of equipment that includes his duty belt and bullet-resistant vest.
“Any time one of our fellow officers is injured or hurt or especially someone like Tom, who is going to be in the hospital for a long time, he is going to need our support,” said Hughes, who has been with the Blue Springs department since 2013. “People who know him are fighting for a way to help or are struggling with the decision on what can we do to help.”
Hughes’ event — Answering the Call: Run for Wagstaff Marathon — is from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday and is free and open to the public. Money collected will benefit a fund for Wagstaff established at the Greater KC Public Safety Credit Union.
After his run Friday, Hughes said he reached out and shared the fundraising idea with his friends in the Independence Police Department. He then contacted police commanders in Blue Springs and got their support.
Wagstaff remained in critical condition Wednesday. Police officials said the 15-year veteran officer showed signs of a slow recovery but still had a long road ahead.
Wagstaff suffered a head wound March 29 during a home invasion robbery in the 3600 block of South Delaware Avenue. Two men forced their way into the house, tied up the homeowner and beat him while trying to gain access to a safe. The men fled in the victim’s SUV by driving it through a closed garage door, and police arrested them after a brief pursuit.
Prosecutors charged Ronar Santiago-Torres, 27, and Joseph E. Wyatt, 28, with robbery, burglary, kidnapping, armed criminal action and assault.
Authorities also charged Donald E. Nussbaum, 51, and James McChan, 56, with the same criminal counts except the assault charge. They are accused of driving Wyatt and Santiago-Torres to commit the crime.
This won’t be the first time Hughes has donned his police uniform to raise money by running. In the past, Hughes has competed in triathlons and run to raise money the Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment, but he hasn’t taken on that type of challenge in about three years. He began running six years ago to lose weight and has run three marathons.
“I know that I can do it, and I decided if I can get the community to rally around us, then it would be great to raise money for him and his family,” said Hughes, who last ran a marathon in October as part of an Iron Man triathlon in Louisville, Ky.
His friendship with Wagstaff goes back nearly 13 years, when the two met while training to become tactical response officers.
Hughes worked for the Eastern Jackson County Drug Task Force, and Wagstaff was a tactical response officer for the Independence Police Department.
Three years ago, Wagstaff’s son played on the basketball team Hughes coached.
“We have kids the same age or about the same age,” he said. “It felt like we have a lot in common, and it just hit me, this could be me and that could be my kids spending time at the hospital. Tom would do something for me, so I need to do something for him.”
Hughes described Wagstaff as happy, friendly and someone who would do anything for anybody.
“If you look at all of the pictures that have been spread around, there’s not one of him without a big smile on his face,” Hughes said. “That is how I will remember him, always smiling and always happy.”
Hughes, who has been in law enforcement for about 14 years, decided to add a twist to the run Sunday by challenging Capt. Jason Chamberlain with Central Jackson County Fire Protection District to see which one of them could persuade their fellow public safety colleagues to join them and either run or walk 3.1 miles.
The loser has to buy dinner for the winner’s squad.
Hughes said his mission for Sunday is simple: raise as much money as possible for a fellow officer.
“The one thing that I have learned about fundraising is that you never know,” he said. “You could have a great day and raise $25,000 or you still could have a good day and raise $5,000.”
“I never like to set goals, I just like to encourage people to come out and donate and see what we can get done.”
Answering the Call: Run for Wagstaff Marathon
The event is from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Blue Springs High School, 2000 N.W. Ashton Drive.
It’s free, but money collected will benefit a fund for injured Independence Police Officer Thomas Wagstaff established at the Greater KC Public Safety Credit Union.
There will be music, and grilled hamburgers and hot dogs will be served. Visit www.publicsafetycu.org to donate to the fund.