Hundreds of people donned sneakers on a crisp, sunny Sunday morning to show their support for a Maryland state trooper critically injured on the job last month.
The crowd gathered at the Maryland State Police Academy in Sykesville for the "5K for JK," an event that raised money to help with expenses related to the recovery and rehabilitation of Maryland State Trooper Jacqueline Kline.
Kline, 25, was struck by a car in Pasadena while assisting a K-9 trooper who had pulled over a suspected drunken driver in the early morning hours of Oct. 6. While Kline walked on the shoulder of Route 100, she was hit by another car.
She suffered a traumatic brain injury, a broken nose and other injuries, but her recovery is progressing rapidly, according to Amy Reed, Kline's mother, who lives in Little Egg Harbor, N.J. Kline has been recovering at Sinai Hospital and could be released next week, her mother said.
"She's come a very long way in five weeks. She has her personality back. She is walking. She's laughing. It's better than we expected at this point," Reed, who attended the 5K, said.
Kline, who works out of the Glen Burnie Barrack, has been a trooper for nearly two years. She followed in the footsteps of her stepfather, John Cooley, a trooper with the New Jersey State Police. Reed said her daughter intends to return to her job, although it's unclear when.
"There is no other thought than she is going to make a full recovery and go back to work and resume her life," Reed said.
The run was organized by Ed Strapp, a fellow state trooper who had gone through the academy with Kline. He figured a 5K run would be a fitting tribute to her.
"She has a passion for working out, for being active," he said. "And physical fitness is a component to what we do every day. What better way to honor her, recognize her and raise a little bit of money for her."
The event raised more than a little. More than 850 runners signed up, which brought in at least $21,250. Additionally, others donated money, including $3,500 raised by the New Jersey State Police.
"People have come out of the woodwork to help," Strapp said, adding that the expectation was the run would attract up to 200. "We have far exceeded our goals."
One of those participating was the superintendent of the Maryland State Police, Col. Marcus Brown, who recently visited Kline in therapy. Her hospital room is decorated with all the certificates she received in recognition of her work, including Trooper of the Month, Top DUI Enforcer and Most Criminal Arrests, Brown said.
"She's just an incredibly motivated and dedicated trooper. Her whole desire is just to get back to work," he said.
Speaking to the crowd before the run, Brown said: "For law enforcement, our job is to give back. Our job is to help those in need." Members of the Maryland State Police, in turn, feel honored by the turnout for one of their own who is in need, he said.
Runners included members of the Maryland and New Jersey state police, other public safety officers from Maryland as well as those not in law enforcement but moved by Kline's story.
Heather Vrana, a Howard County firefighter trainee, was one of the runners, although she doesn't know Kline.
"I just think it's really important that we support each other between the police, fire and other public safety officers," she said. "This was one simple way that I felt that I could do that."
Mariana Meyer, an Odenton hairdresser and longtime runner, said she signed up for the 5K after hearing about Kline's accident.
"It touched my heart to hear about the state trooper who was taking care of business, protecting us, and she gets hit. It just broke my heart," Meyer said. "This was a little something I could do for her."