The morning was cold but the group of 39 police recruits from Rio Hondo Academy were dressed in shorts and t-shirts as they ran a 4.5 miles along Pasadena’s Rose Bowl.
The cadets were two days away from graduation day and had spent the last 25-weeks training as a team. But this last run –was a special one.
Rio Hondo’s Pride Run has become a tradition for police graduates who select a fallen officers from the academy.
This year, the honor for this graduating class, went to Pasadena Police Officer Kyle Ballard, who died 14 years ago after he completed a 10K at the Rose Bowl to qualify for the Department’s Baker to Vegas Relay.
Family, friends and fellow Pasadena Police officers all gathered at the Rose Bowl on Tuesday, February 4th to bear witness to the Pride Run.
“This run is the culmination of everything they’ve accomplished in the academy. It’s the last physical challenge that they start together and finish together, “said Academy Coordinator David Miklos. “But this is where we press upon the point that law enforcement is a family. They’ve joined a family. And if someone has lost someone, we are here to remind them he is not forgotten.”
Laurie Ballard, who was just a young mom of three boys when Officer Ballard died, continues to feel grateful and honored by her extended law enforcement family who always remember her husband.
She attended the Pride Run and was touched by the memorial for her husband by the cadets and Rio Hondo Police Academy.
“To carry on Kyle’s spirit and remember him … it’s more than I ever expected,” said Ballard. “The PPD has always helped make me feel not alone in this, and more importantly my kids. They’ve always been able to see that he was cared about.”
For the last 14 years, the Pasadena PD has held a memorial run in honor of Ballard, along with special events and recognition’s that continually bring Laurie and her three boys back to the Police Department to commemorate his presence with the PD.
After the 39 cadets finished the Pride Run, they got into a group huddle before dropping down for a series of 24 push-ups, each one for Kyle Ballard.
“Congratulations to you,” Pasadena Police Chief John Perez said to the graduates. “And remember to take care of one another.”