Back the Blue
By Michael D. Boll
A few years ago at a charity race, I had the pleasure of meeting United States Marine Corps Iraqi War veteran Tim Shea. Tim is an amazing man who donates countless hours every day to help the families of fallen officers and prevent Blue suicide. Tim is one of the most passionate men that I ever met, and he has dedicated his life to help our blue families during some hard times. Soon Tim will be doing an event with our team, and we couldn’t be any more excited to be a part of his extraordinary “Back the Blue” charity. Here’s his story in his own words.
Back the Blue Running was created by combining two things that are very vital to the way I live. This nonprofit is my catalyst for allowing me to be able to show my support for our law enforcement families while using a unique approach. Running long distances has recently become a big passion of mine over the past few years. The idea of running distances in the Ultra (anything over a 26.2 marathon) category has been an eye-opening experience each time I attempt those distances. My hope is that using my platform or running while wearing thin blue line gear or carrying a thin blue line American flag will allow passing officers to take notice and see that they are still supported. I do not only do this for our officers, but I also do it for their families. Sometimes those are the members of our community who need to see the support more than the rest of us. I carry the memory of not only my brother (LODD 7-18-2004) but of all our blue members that we have lost protecting us. Some we may have lost to gunfights, some to traffic collisions, and more than ever we have lost too many to suicide.
Being a veteran of Operation Iraqi freedom, and someone who carries an active PTSD diagnoses, I can somewhat assimilate what out Law Enforcement members are going through. I understand the toll that mental illness, exhaustion and thinking no one understands you takes on the body, and how it can make the whole world feel against you.
Each year, starting in 2018, I will be dedicating all funds raised for charities that support the same causes I believe in. In 2018 I performed a solo 34.8 mile run in Delaware in my brother Chris’ memory to raise awareness to the families who lose an officer, as well as funds to be given to Concerns of Police survivors, Delaware chapter, with nearly $1,500 being donated to their programs. In 2019 I am concentrating my efforts on the law enforcement suicide epidemic, with all funds raised going to the “Blue H.E.L.P” organization, whose mission is:
“To reduce mental health stigma through education, advocate for benefits for those suffering from post-traumatic stress, acknowledge the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers we lost to suicide, assist officers in their search for healing, and to bring awareness to suicide and mental health issues.”
Donations can be made at www.backthebluerunning.com/donations
Michael D. Boll is a retired police sergeant in NJ. He previously served as a United States Marine, and is a Gulf War veteran. He is the founder of Operation Rebound Racing Team, a nonprofit organization that helps wounded veterans and first responders enjoy a better quality of life.