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Honoring the fallen

Brownsburg runners support police officer’s efforts to Rep the Blue

By Lindsay Doty

On a warm fall evening, Brownsburg police officer Tony West hits the pavement for a 5K run starting at Cardinal Park. He does it every Wednesday while grasping the Thin Blue Line American flag.

The Honor Runs are part of Team BlueLine, a national effort to give recognition and support to fallen officers and their families.

Each run starts with a dedication and backstory about an officer killed in the line of duty from the previous week. 

“Each run is led with the Thin Blue Line American Flag to represent the sacrifice the officers made and to let their families know we will never forget,” said West, a 20-year police veteran who grew up in a family of cops (his father and grandfather served with Indianapolis PD). 

West started the Team BlueLine Honor Runs in Brownsburg this spring with the help of Brownsburg Running Club (BRC) founder Scott Grubbs. Now, volunteer runners and walkers from the community group join the weekly Wednesday evening group run to represent the blue.

“I was overwhelmed with the positive response and continue to be overwhelmed with the group of athletes that consistently arrive to show support. It seems like each week I see new faces of people wanting to come out and be part of something bigger than ourselves,” said West, who is humbled by the community support as the group weaves through Brownsburg.

“When I began running the TBL Honor Run I was always a little hesitant to carry the flag at first. As we ran through the community, car horns started sounding. I observed people waving and giving thumbs up and yelling ‘Thank You,’” said West. “Each of those moments gave me more and more confidence with each step, knowing the community of Brownsburg was supporting our cause.” 

Brownsburg Running Club Founder Scott Grubbs is proud to be part of the effort. 

“We still believe that law enforcement is a noble and honorable profession driven by people that want to do the right things for the right reasons,” said Grubbs. “We simply want to honor those who have sacrificed and will continue to support anyone who believes in doing the right thing for the right reasons regardless of any political, social or religious [affiliations].”

Since the runs started locally, the community support has increased. 

“One week, after seeing the flags, we had an IMPD officer come by the group to say thank you and share a bit of his story. It was a great reminder to us all why we run and that we live in a community that supports the cause,” said Jennifer Garrett, a longtime BRC runner who has participated weekly. 

The Honor Run is dedicated to officers killed in the line of duty from the previous week.

If an officer wasn’t killed in the line of duty, they don’t do one.

“Unfortunately, we’ve only had two weeks since March where we haven’t had to honor an officer for their sacrifice,” said West.   

He joined Team BlueLine in 2017 after he stumbled upon the nonprofit after scrolling through Facebook. The Ironman athlete himself decided to join Team Blueline Racing, a national endurance team that raises money for the families of fallen officers through races. The current 2020 team has more than 100 athletes.

“I’ve witnessed more tragedy than I care to see in my lifetime,” West said. “I joined Team BlueLine Racing in 2016 after looking for a way to give back. It was the perfect fit between being able to utilize my athletic ability and fundraise for a profession that I’ve dedicated my life to.”

He is thankful for the support at home for allowing him to Rep the Blue.

“The Town of Brownsburg has shown love and support, which makes it easy to run with pride now,” he said. “Thank you to all those that have acknowledged us out there and continue to do so each week.”

The runs mean more than honoring other officers. It’s about the community West serves, too.

“Now, with having members of my community in which I serve and reside help spread the word and support the Team BlueLine cause alongside me has been probably the most rewarding moment of my law enforcement career,” West said. 

Weekly Honor Runs with Brownsburg Running Club: 

Brownsburg Running Club started in 2019 and is a free volunteer group for people in Brownsburg and surrounding communities who want to run or walk.  

They hold group runs or walks every Saturday morning and the Wednesday evening Honor Runs at 5:30 p.m. Anyone can join the private group page and participate as long as they remain positive and respectful of others. To join, search Brownsburg Running Club on Facebook or Instagram or email at brownsburgrc@gmail.com

Email Tony West at twest@brownsburgpolice.org for information on Team BlueLine Racing.


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