THE HEAT WAS ON for the Braidwood Police Department at the 2014 Warrior Dash. Captured leaping over one of the 14 extreme obstacles during the 3.10 mile course was the departmentís office manager, Tari Atherton (left), and Tara McCasland (center), wife of Sergeant Jack McCasland.
DEPUTY CHIEF Donn Kaminiski balanced his way across the water soaked beam that sat suspened over 20 feet in the air. Kaminiski participated as one of the local police departmentís 34 team members in this yearís Warrior Dash.
by Tonya Michalec Staff writer
They're the top dogs again.
After raising the most funds as a team for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital a year ago, Braidwood police officers returned to the 2014 Warrior Dash equipped with additional recruits and more than twice the money to continue their reign as the highest raising team.
The Warrior Dash was held again at Dollinger's Farm, in Minooka. The two-day event ran Saturday and Sunday, June 14-15 with the proceeds given to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Teams participated every half hour, beginning at 7:30 a.m. and running straight through each day, with the last team taking the course at 6 p.m.
The Braidwood Police Department's team hit the dirt at 10 a.m. on opening day. The 3.10-mile course was filled with 14 obstacles spread over rugged and hilly terrain.
Teams had to leap over burning wood piles, climb 100 foot vertical ramps and balance their way across 6 inch by 6 inch wooden beams suspended 20 feet in the air while being sprayed with water.
"It was a great event again this year and fun for all," Deputy Chief Kaminski said. "The slide was absolutely my favorite part - especially because it was at the end,"
BPD's team, a group of 34, ran the winding trek through the woods, across the several rope climbs, over the fire and through muddy trenches to reach the finish line.
This years team included Sgt. Allen Soucie, Sgt. Michelle Soucie, office administrator Tari Atherton, officer Kevin Schumacher, Sgt. Jack McCasland, Deputy Chief Donn Kaminski, Investigator Steve Finlon, Officer Theresa Wollgast, Officer Michael Redmann and Officer Adam Tapper. Police departments from Shorewood, Romeoville, Plainfield and Joliet, along with their family members, joined Braidwood.
The team's youngest participant this year was 14-year-old Karen Gonski, daughter of city clerk Lisa Glisson. Gonski, a Reed-Custer cheerleader and dancer at On Broadway Dancers, claimed it was also an eye-opening experience about what it truly means to call yourself a "Warrior" for St. Jude's.
"The Warrior Dash was a very fun experience," Gonski said. "I encourage everyone to be a part of it... although you might want to train a little before because it kicked my butt. It was a more fun than it was difficult, especially when you have friends and loved ones running along with you for a good cause."
Braidwood raised $14,175, with the largest single donation being $4,000 from Rodney Jones of Braceville's Superior Mechanical. That total surpassed last year's $6,640 by $7,535. The funds were raised from private donations and various tag days.
The BPD was the nationwide top team for this event in 2013 and is again thus far this year in the state and also in the nation.
"Our goal was to raise at least $10,000 this year and we surpassed that on the tag day we held over Memorial Day weekend," Atherton said.
As the top dogs from last year, BPD's team was escorted by the Channahon Police into the venue. Other teams had up to a 45-minute wait getting into farm's restricted parking areas. The team was also given free bag checking and access to the VIP tent with food and cold drinks.
The most appreciated VIP treatment was private bathrooms and showers.
"You would not believe how nice it was to be able to clean up after doing something like that," Atherton said. "We all really appreciated those extra amenities, that was for sure."
Warrior Dash partnered with USAgain to recycle soiled shoes. Participants were encouraged to bring unwanted shoes from home. The donated shoes will be diverted from landfills, refurbished and donated to people around the world. USAgain also made a charitable donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on behalf of the 2013 and 2014 Warrior Dash.
"I am extremely proud of how well we have done thus far and it is heart-warming to know so many people support the Braidwood Police Department and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital," said Sgt. Michelle Soucie, the team's leader.
"It's a good team-building experience that helps us get to know each other outside of the department," said Sgt. Bret Goodwin. "It's nice for the younger officers to get to hang out with the older ones outside of work. It really helps them get to know each other as people."
The City of Braidwood, Chief Rich Girot and the mayor all support their department's efforts to help St. Jude's
"Braidwood Police Department would like to give 'a big thank you' to our sponsors! Due to their donations we were the top fundraising team last year and so far again this year. We could not have achieved this had it not been for all of the generous people," said Atherton.
Contact staff writer Tonya Michalec at firstname.lastname@example.org.