3.2 to Protect the Blue 5K race raises thousands to help Harrisburg Police buy bulletproof vests

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HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. -- A new race in Dauphin County raised money for Harrisburg Bureau of Police and the protection they need.

Hundreds of people took part in a 3.2 mile race, all in an effort to help the bureau buy new protective equipment.

"On your mark, get set, GO!"

More than 530 people taking part in the first '3.2 To Protect The Blue 5K Race' on City Island in Dauphin County.

The race benefited Harrisburg Bureau of Police; UPMC Pinnacle of Harrisburg organized it as a way to say 'thank you' and to raise money.

'If we need them, when they're not there working or we need extra help, they're there in seconds. We can barely blink our eyes, and there's an officer showing up at the door," said Nicole Gaustch, a Nurse Manager of the Emergency Department and the event's organizer.

Proceeds will help the bureau buy more bullet proof vests, carriers, and new helmets.

"Having the right equipment to do a particular job actually gives you a certain degree of confidence, and officers that have that confidence are able to tackle anything that comes their way, safely, for themselves, as well as the people we're dealing with," said Lieutenant Terry Wealand of Harrisburg Bureau of Police.

"Nowadays, you never know what type of weapon you're going to come up against," said Officer Jeffrey Cook, a patrolman and former member of the U.S. Fugitive Task Force.

Officer Cook says the vests could save a life.

"I think it's awesome they put this together and decided to do this for the city," he said.

Cook took part to honor his brother in blue, fallen Deputy U.S. Marshall Christoper Hill, who was killed by friendly fire while serving a warrant at a home in Harrisburg back in January.

Supporters waved flags and held signs to honor Hill and 29 other fallen officers from Pennsylvania during the last leg of the race.

Participants ran an extra .1 mile as a tribute to those heroes.

People said they want to give back to the men and women in blue and keep them safe *too.

"They're here to protect us, so I want to do what I can to support them," said Ashley Sznaider, a nurse in the Emergency Department.

An organizer said UPMC did not just meet their goal; they surpassed it!!

The race raised more than $20,000 for the 30 bullet proof vests, carriers, and helmets.

For those unable to attend, but who want to support the Emergency Department’s effort to provide protective vests for police officers, please visit http://www.UPMCPinnacle.com/MakeaGift.

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