ORLANDO, Fla. – More than 100 racers braved chilly temperatures Saturday morning to run in memory of fallen Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton.
With every step, 150 racers pushed through the pain and sweat during the first annual Back the Blue 5K.
"Just trying to catch my breath, trying to catch my breath," Officer Max Perez, with the Clermont Police Department, said.
The race started at the Rosemont Community Center. Racers followed similar paths Clayton used to take while patrolling the Rosemont community.
"She always encouraged us to get out in Rosemont and meet the kids, meet the families, and let them know we're here for them," Orlando police Officer Alison Clarke, who organized the race, said.
Clayton's footsteps may be gone, but Clarke said she is still leading the way. Her legacy of bridging the gap between law enforcement and the community will be her lasting mark.
"She loved this community as much as she loved our squad, so to bring it all together is exactly what she would have wanted to do," Clarke said.
The race finishes what Clarke called "a rough week" for her squad and Orlando police. On Tuesday, the community remembered Clayton, who was killed one year ago in the line of duty.
First responders from across the Orlando area ran in her memory.
"Support the blue. We're a family and we're here to support Lt. Clayton and all of the men and women of the Orlando Police Department," Clermont Police Chief Charles Broadway said. "It's really about support."
Whether they sprinted, jogged, or walked across the finish lines, racers said this was the least they could do.
"I couldn't do what they're doing. To strap on a bulletproof vest and put your life on the line every day to protect citizens means a lot," racer Sandra Dagostino said.
Clarke said all of the donations raised from the race will go to Clayton's family. She said they hope to make next year's race even bigger and involve all law enforcement agencies in Central Florida.