Not wanting Blue Springs Police Officer Keegan Hughes to run alone, 17-year-old Breanna Bunney of Grain Valley High School accompanied him for one of the 105 laps he completed Sunday.
“He’s quick,” Breanna said. “It was hard to keep up, but I did.”
Dressed in his full police uniform — except for a pair of running shoes — Hughes used that 26.2-mile run as a way to help his longtime friend Tom Wagstaff, the Independence police officer who was shot in the head while responding to a home robbery late last month.
On the sunny and breezy Sunday, Hughes ran the marathon one lap at a time around the track at Blue Springs High School, wearing his uniform and about 20 pounds of equipment that included his duty belt and bullet-resistant vest.
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It took him about four hours and at the conclusion, he said that with the help of people like Breanna, he ran only two of those laps alone. Some of those who accompanied him included members of Wagstaff’s family.
“It seems like we had a phenomenal turnout …,” Hughes said. “I always had somebody by my side. It’s been a special day.”
While Hughes was running, Wagstaff remained in critical condition at a hospital. Police officials said recently that the 15-year veteran officer has shown signs of a slow recovery.
The Answering the Call: Run for Wagstaff Marathon was a fundraiser for Wagstaff and his family, with all the proceeds going to a fund for Wagstaff established at the Greater KC Public Safety Credit Union.
Independence Police Officer Luis Virgil told those who remained for the finish that because of Hughes’ efforts and those who turned out, more than $14,500 was raised. And not all of the money had been tallied.
“I think it is just huge,” said Virgil, who is handling the fund for the family. “I think it shows the community is behind not only the Wagstaff family but the IPD family as a whole. He’s fighting for his life and we will take any positivity we can get.”
The Wagstaff family attended the fundraiser, but kept it low key,
“They wanted to come out and just see it for themselves,” Virgil said.
Virgil, who used to be a Blue Springs police officer and worked with Hughes, said Hughes had called him with the idea for the fundraiser.
“That’s just him wanting to help out a friend and brother in blue,” Virgil said.
Ronar Santiago-Torres, 27, and Joseph E. Wyatt, 28, have been charged with robbery, burglary, kidnapping, armed criminal action and assault.
Also charged are 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.
Best friends and Blue Springs residents Jane McLain and Petie Scott attended the Sunday’s fundraiser together. Like many others in attendance, they signed a special black and white Thin Blue Line American flag that will be given to the Wagstaff family.
“I signed to show support and let them know that people care,” McLain said. “We couldn’t make it without police officers.”