With a storm looming overhead, they pressed on, determined to remember their brother in blue.
On Saturday, September 6, officers from the 49th Precinct led the 6th Annual 5K 9/11 Memorial Run in honor of Lt. Thomas Clesse.
“We had the biggest turnout since we started the memorial run,” 49th Precinct Community Affairs Police Officer Vic DiPierro commented about the nearly 80 people that gathered at the stationhouse that morning eager to participate.
Also record breaking was the more than $1,000 raised for Widows and Orphans of Fallen Police Officers Fund.
Similarly celebrating the day was runner Vinnie Lipiello, who not only smoked the competition in the race’s male division, but also took the title for the third year in a row.
“He’s blowing the field away ever year, so we need to break the cycle,” DiPierro said laughing.
Michelle Caton claimed the top prize in the women’s division, with Mike Donaugn in the Over 50 category.
Equally involved were the youngsters in the 10 years and younger and 11-13 age groups.
“It was really special to see so many young kids getting involved as well,” DiPierro recalled.
He added the event couldn’t have happened without the generous donations of 300 water bottles from Citywide Ambulance, the Basket of Cheer from Gleason’s Café and a dinner for two from Frankie & Johnny’s Pine on Bronxdale Avenue.
DiPierro further attributed the results to widened awareness through The Bronx Times Reporter and supportive efforts from the 49th Precinct Council, Auxiliary Unit and Explorers.
Especially important to the event, DiPierro said, was Sgt. Thomas Bruen, whose friendship with Lt. Clesse generated an honesty of remembrance at the race.
Sgt. Bruen worked with Lt. Clesse at the 4-9 before he lost his fight to cancer on July 27, 2002.
Participants remembered the officer and 9-11 victims with each step at the run. This year, coincidently, there were more steps than ever.
“Every year it seems to get bigger and bigger,” DiPierro explained about the exciting morning, which included a special visits from Lt. Clesse’s family, Deputy Inspector Kevin Collins and Captain John Greley.
“It’s great to see them out there and it shows the community the police are not just there as protection, but also as friends and part of the community,” 49th Precinct Community Council President Joe Thompson said. “All of this, it just brings the community and police closer together, and for a good cause.”