Crowd at Bitner Memorial event exceeds expectations

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Hundreds of feet followed the marked trails June 8 at the Jeremy Bitner Memorial Event, held to raise money for the state fallen officer fund.

“I am amazed that so many people showed up today. We had 387 people take part in the event, which is more than three times the number we expected to participate,” said Englewood Police Officer Chad Read, one of the organizers. “A group of police officers, firefighters and members of the Burg Simpson Law Firm worked together to organizing the event. The goal today was to remember Jeremy with a fun day for all those who attend and to raise money to be used to help families of fallen Colorado law enforcement officials.”

He said the event was a success thanks in large part to the work of more than 80 volunteers.

Because of the success of the event, organizers are already starting to plan next year’s gathering. Read said the 2014 event will be held in June, but a specific date hasn’t been nailed down.

The June 8 activities were held in memory of Jeremy Bitner, an Englewood police officer posthumously promoted to detective. Bitner died May 28, 2012, of injuries suffered when he was hit by a car while making a traffic stop.

Bitner had been with the Englewood Police Department for eight years. He was a patrol officer, a member of the SWAT team and served as a training officer for new members of the department. He is survived by his wife and two children.

The Jeremy Bitner Memorial Event included a five- and 10-kilometer run, a five-kilometer walk and a children’s fun walk. The start and finish line for the events were in the southeast end of Cornerstone Park. The courses wound through the park along the Big Dry Creek Trail and Mary Carter Greenway. It will be a certified course for those who need to record times on a measured course.

There were a number of police and fire vehicles on display, and the Air Life helicopter landed near the stage where participants assembled for the awards ceremonies.

Dan Johnson of Denver ran and walked the course with his 8-year-old daughter Melanie and his 6-year-old daughter Mia.

He said he thought the event was well organized and it was a great way to remember a fallen officer and raise money to help families of officers killed in the line of duty in the future.

Melanie said she ran or walked the whole course and it was longer than she thought it would be. She said she felt she did well and liked her time.

Her younger sister walked or got a ride from her father on the course.

“I did walk some and daddy carried me some,” the 6-year-old said. “I liked being here today and I liked doing this thing with my dad.”

Nearby, Englewood Detective Vance Fender and his 9-year-old daughter Elizabeth were catching their breath. Elizabeth was one of the youngest runners across the finish line in the 10-kilometer run.

She said she likes to run and is good at it.

“I started running some when I was 4 or 5 and I guess I started because my mom is a runner,” the girl said. “I liked being here today because the event raised money for a good cause. It was a good course and I think my time was about 52 minutes for the 10K.”