Winter Springs, Florida — At just 11 years old, Zechariah Cartledge runs a mile for every first responder who loses their life in the line of service. Since January, he's run 283 miles.
"All I think about during the runs is the fallen heroes, the fallen officers, the fallen firefighters, their families. That's my mission for the run," he said.
Inspired by New York's Tunnel to Towers 5K, which honors the fallen 9/11 first responders, Cartledge started his tribute when he was 8. Near his home in Seminole County, Florida, Sheriff Dennis Lemma said the runs come at a critical time for law enforcement.
"I think it's important that our communities at all age groups know the sacrifices that are being made," Lemma said.
On one night, Cartledge ran to honor 37-year-old Brian Ishmael, a sheriff's deputy from El Dorado County, California, who was shot and killed recently. As he ran in the rain with supporters behind him, he had a following nearly 3,000 miles away.
Elementary school students in El Dorado were inspired by Cartledge to run and remember their fallen hero.
"That final lap is the final goodbye," Cartledge said. "I want to give it all on that final lap, to show how much of a great man or woman this officer was."