WHEELING - A donation made Thursday by the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic will enable the Wheeling Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 38 to provide a merry Christmas for more area children this year than ever before, according to Wheeling police Sgt. Tom Howard.
Half Marathon organizers presented Howard, president of the local FOP, with a check for $15,219 for its annual Shop with a Cop program, representing proceeds from the 38th annual race, held this past Memorial Day weekend. That donation marked the fifth straight year that race proceeds have been donated to a local charitable cause.
Howard estimates the donation from the Ogden race will allow the FOP to invite 75-100 additional children to the Shop with a Cop event in December, during which law enforcement officers from across Ohio County take children to a local store to shop for toys, books, games, clothes and more. These are children who otherwise may not have any gifts under the tree to open on Christmas morning.
WHeeling Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 38 President Sgt. Tom Howard, center, accepts a check for $15,219 from Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Race Director R. “Scat” Scatterday, left, and Perry Nardo, general manager of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register. The funds represent proceeds from the 38th annual race held this past Memorial Day weekend.
"This will be the biggest one ever," Howard said, adding he and his fellow officers look forward to the event each year. "It's about the kids. That's all it's about. It makes our guys feel good. ... The guys don't get paid for it, it's just their own time."
It's not uncommon for officers to work the night shift, spend several hours with the children during Shop with a Cop that morning and go right back to work in the afternoon, according to Howard. And he said he's often amazed by the generosity of the children who participate, as many shop for their siblings and parents as well, rather than spend their entire allotment on themselves.
Perry Nardo, general manager of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, said the donation is a fitting token of thanks for the Wheeling Police Department's role in providing a safe, secure environment for the race every year.
We appreciate what the police have done for the race and the time they've donated over the last 38 years," Nardo said. "We just felt this would be a nice way to show our gratitude for all they've done, and it's consistent with the philosophy of the race: Giving back to the community."
Race Director R. "Scat" Scatterday said the donation represents the strengthening of a relationship between the race and the police department that existed for many years, and highlights the transformation of the race in recent years from a single-day athletic event to a weekend-long celebration of community and family.
"This touches young children in a personal way," Scatterday said. "That is consistent with the philosophy of this race."
Nardo added special thanks go out to all of the races sponsors, without whom donations such as that made to the Shop with a Cop would not be possible.
In past years, race proceeds have benefited the Miracle League of the Ohio Valley, the Howard Corcoran Memorial Scholarship Fund administered by the West Virginia Super Six Committee and the Augusta Levy Learning Center. Event organizers are in the process of selecting a partner organization for the 2015 race.