On the morning of Sunday, August 6, hundreds of runners gathered at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge for Keith’s Race, an annual memorial 5k run/walk in honor of NYPD Sergeant Keith A. Ferguson, who died in the line of duty in 2004.
Since 2005, Keith’s Race has raised and awarded over $60,000 in scholarship funds to the children of NYPD personnel. Recipients have gone on to attend a variety of academic institutions, including New York University, College of Charleston, Iona College, The Citadel military college, and others. Additional funds have been awarded the New York City Police Foundation and Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting families and colleagues of officers killed in the line of duty.
A 17-year veteran of the NYPD, Sergeant Ferguson, 38, was a member of the Emergency Service Unit, where he was assigned to the elite Hercules counter-terrorism squad. In January 2004, he suffered a heart attack while responding to a patrol officer’s calls for assistance. Before joining the ESU, he had worked in the Narcotics Division, the Auto Crimes Division, the Street Crimes Unit, and in the 1 and 67 Precincts.
“When Keith died, I was crushed,” said Sonia Cunningham, Sergeant Ferguson’s mother. “But I didn’t want to sit around, and we began thinking about how we could honor Keith’s memory. We came up with a plan to have a 5k run across the Brooklyn Bridge.”
With a goal of supporting education and law enforcement initiatives, Ms. Cunningham and others organized the first event in 2005, with the support of the NYPD.
“That first year, we had just 120 people,” she says. “The next year we had 200; then 400, then 500, then 700. Every year, we just got more and more people.” According to Ms. Cunningham, well over a thousand runners registered for the race in 2017.
In the lead up to race, Ms. Cunningham offered her thanks to the NYPD, in particular, former Chief of Department Joseph J. Esposito, who helped organize the first race in 2005. “We could never have done this without Chief Esposito’s assistance. He helped every step of the way, and Commissioner O’Neill has really continued that support,” she says.
Over the years, numerous other organizations have supported Keith’s Race, including the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Sergeants Benevolent Association, as well as local businesses, such as Dr. Raphael Sentore, DDS and Dental 365.