Every one of the 1,000 to 1,500 participants at the California Peace Officers Association (CPOA) Memorial Run today had a unique story, but for one man, it was a matter of life and death.
The life of Livermore resident Michael Lause was saved by Richmond officer Brad Moody in 2008. While that in itself isn't unusual, Moody saved Lause from beyond the grave. Lause would have died if not for a lung transplant; Moody, who'd signed up to be an organ donor, not only saved Lause but five people by donating his lungs, heart, pancreas kidneys and liver.
For Lause, a marathon runner who contracted a lung disease that left him bedridden and on oxygen, the CPOA event was about honoring Moody. Last year, without telling any of the organizers, Lause walked the route, just months after his transplant.
"I read about it in the paper. I said this was a memorial walk (and) Brad had fallen in the line of duty," Lause said. "I just wanted to walk it for him, to show that I was trying to keep his lungs in good shape. I felt it was a tribute to him to do that."
He walked with his teenage daughter, Katherynn, and along the way, they ran into some officers from the Richmond Police Department, and asked if they knew Moody. They were told the officers worked with him every day, and they walked the rest of the route together.
Lause is especially grateful to have received his lung from Moody, whom he described as a hero.
"It's such a miracle that it happened -- not only that it happened to me, but the donor, that I got his lung," Lause said.
An occasional marathon runner and frequent 10k runner, Lause said he started to get out of breath on hill climbs a few years ago, and his wife, Marilynn, finally convinced to see a doctor. He was diagnosed with a degenerative lung disease that ultimately would have been fatal.
This year, Lause planned to run rather than walk.
He also set up a table with information to help convince others to become organ donors.
'I said, 'What a great way to recognize the California Donor Network,'" Lause said.
This years' event was held at Shadow Cliffs Regional Park in Pleasanton. Runners chose a 5k or 10k course, and there was a fun run for children. Proceeds were to go to Northern California Concerns Of Police Survivors (NorCal COPS), which assists in the rebuilding of lives for survivors of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
Pleasanton Lt. Mike Elerick said the run this year was especially poignant, given that four officers from Oakland died in a gun battle last year.
Those four -- Sgt. Ervin Romans, Sgt. Mark Dunakin Sgt. Daniel Sakai and Officer John Hege -- were remembered, along with Sgt. Steven May of Modesto, Sgt. Greg Hernandez of the Tulare County Sheriffs Department and Sgt. Curtis Massey of Culver City.
Elerick said the event, which was to be catered by Outback Steakhouse, is not simply a fundraiser.
"It brings families together, it raises awareness, and just raises money for a good cause," he said.