Reaching the Finish Line

A community tradition grows to support the police department

Among the 5Ks and triathlons that Walter Jominy participates in—including an Ironman last year—there’s one race the North Creek Presbyterian Church elder would never miss: North Creek’s Explorer 5K Run/Walk.

That’s because, beyond bringing the community together, it gives back to Coconut Creek by raising money for the police department’s Police Explorers post.

“We know that those guys put their lives on the line every day, and we really just wanted to thank them and say, ‘We support you,’” Jominy says of the event, now in its eighth year. “We very much want to thank them for what they do and support anything they do toward building their forces with the young Explorers to get them into the program.”

Though the 5K has always been about the Explorers, Jominy says that this year, the church decided to expand the event to focus on the community’s relationship with the department. Before the 5K, attendees will have the chance to meet police officers, check out a SWAT truck and see K-9 unit demonstrations.

“Having the police department come and show off their wares allows the community to come out and say hi and see that these are really nice guys,” Jominy says.

Coconut Creek police officer Michael Zombek, lead adviser of the department’s Explorer post, says the expanded event will allow people to “put faces to names” and bond with the department.

“With the current climate with law enforcement in some communities, we’re fortunate that our city supports us a great deal and we’re very grateful for that,” Zombek says. “And this is just a way to reinforce that commitment, that we are community policing by being a part of the community.”

The Explorers, made up of 14 to 19 year olds, explore police work through scenario-based training that teaches them police responsibilities such as knowing when to make an arrest. They also volunteer at special events, including the 5K.

The money raised by the 5K allows the 22 Explorers, many of them Coconut Creek residents, to compete in state and local competitions and buy new equipment.

The church plans the 5K with the department, creating a relationship that Sgt. Kathryn Markland says shows the Explorers the value of community service and looking out for one’s neighbors.

“Our Explorers are a fantastic group of young adults who realize they are part of the community and the community is part of them—one will not work without the other,” Markland says.

Participating in the 5K is one of the many roles that the department plays in the community, something the Explorers experience firsthand.

“What we’re doing through the Explorer post is helping to bring about future leaders—people who are going to be sacrificing their lives to protect people, to serve people,” Markland says. “They say it takes a village to raise a child—part of that village is the police department.”

And North Creek Presbyterian continues to be a part of that village, too. Says Jominy: “It’s a blessing to know they’re going to be dedicating their lives to public service and that we can help them.”

NORTH CREEK EXPLORER 5K RUN/WALK

Where: North Creek Presbyterian, 4601 NW 71st Place, Coconut Creek

When: Dec. 3. Pre-race activities, including free hamburgers, hot dogs and a live band, begin at 3 p.m. Race begins at 5 p.m.

Individual registration: $35; $40 day of race

Family registration: $50

Contact: Register at raceit.com. For more information, email [email protected] or visit northcreektoday.org/5k-sponsors.

Prizes: More than 125 trophies are awarded, including best overall male/female and special awards. All registered runners and walkers receive a free post-race meal and T-shirt.

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