Legacy of Hope’s mission to cure all forms of cancer reaches all corners of the world, yet our roots are planted right here in Philadelphia. It is fitting that the Philly community is coming together like a family to Run for Free in the Philadelphia Love Half Marathon on March 31st.
Everyone has his or her own reason for running and, for Philadelphia police captain Javier Rodriguez, the reason is two-fold. Captain Rodriguez, commander of the 25th District in the Fairhill section of the city, is running for this friends, family and colleagues affected by cancer as well as in support of the cancer patients living in his community.
The 25th District suffers from mean household incomes well below the average for the city and a population largely living under the poverty line. “The way crime affects the quality of life here…it’s not like other parts of the city,” Capt. Rodriguez reflects regarding the neighborhood he was born and raised in.
The opioid crisis has had a heavy impact on the area and many residents, some of them cancer patients, face added challenges to receive proper medical care. “A lot of them worry about how they’re going to get to their appointment. How they are putting food on the table.”
Despite the challenges these patients face, Captain Rodriguez points out that there are community resources that can help. “We have some very strong community groups.” He asserts that if residents don’t know where to turn, the police department is there to help. “We’re going to direct people–we know who to call. We’re empowering the people in this community.”
Rodriguez will be running on March 31st as a police captain, a Philadelphia resident, and a community leader. Not a stranger to community service, he has become known for this neighborhood events such as a Haunted Hayride and Trunk or Treat last Halloween in Hunting Park and visits from Santa to bring the residents and police closer together. The captain told me most of his officers participate in community and charity events throughout the year as a way to give back.
“I haven’t seriously trained since I was in the Marine Corp,” Capt. Rodriguez admitted to me. He’s not letting this stop him, though. “It’s the least I can do. People have either beat cancer and have gone through a lot or are suffering through it now. If I’m hurting because I ran, it’s nothing compared to what they’re going through.”
Captain Rodriguez’s participation and support of Legacy of Hope and Philly Runs Free is characteristic of his willingness to put others before himself and his dedication to help those in his community who need it the most. He, alongside his fellow police officers, are sending out email blasts and social media posts to recruit as many cops as they can to come out and run on March 31st.
The captain has a strong but simple message to those cancer fighters and survivors “Keep fighting the fight. Life is worth fighting for.”