Running 4 Heroes is a 501(c)(3) organization led by 11 year old Zechariah Cartledge. The Board of Directors was put in place in 2019 and has served this organization well. The following individuals comprise the Running 4 Heroes Board of Directors…
Zechariah Cartledge has always had a deep respect for First Responders, and developed a passion for running when he was only 5 years old. At the age of 7, Zechariah began competing in various 5k events around the community. In October of 2017, Zechariah ran in the Tunnel to Towers 5k in Orlando, FL. This run proved to be a turning point for Zechariah and the spark that created Running 4 Heroes.
During this run, Zechariah had the opportunity to run with dozens of First Responders, many of whom ran the race in their full gear. From that point forward, Zechariah knew he wanted to keep running with and for our First Responders. Originally, his mission set out to honor a fallen 9/11 Police Officer named Walwyn Stuart, while raising money for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Zechariah spent all of 2018 honoring this fallen hero in his various races and ended up raising over $11,000 for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
It was at the end of 2018 when he heard about how many Police Officers lost their lives in the line of duty that year. Knowing that the number of miles he ran in 2018 was nearly the same amount of miles as Officers lost in 2018, Zechariah set out on a mission to run 1-mile in 2019 for every Officer lost in the line of duty from the prior year and to raise $100 for each Officer for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
However, just 2-weeks into 2019, Zechariah heard how more Officers had already lost their lives in the lines of duty in the current year, so he decided to add an additional mile for every Officer lost in 2019, but for them, he would run those miles carrying the Blue Line Flag in their honor.
Currently, Zechariah has run over 240 miles in 2019 and has raised over $51,000 for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
That decision to honor our fallen heroes has led to the creation of the Running 4 Heroes 501(c)(3), which sets out to honor every First Responder lost in the line of duty as well as support those injured First Responders whose injuries were duty-related.
Chad Cartledge has helped create the mission of Running 4 Heroes as a way to show support for his son, Zechariah, and the efforts Zechariah puts in to honoring our fallen heroes. While Chad is not a runner himself, he has experience in Theater and a degree from the University of Central Florida in Radio/Television/Communication. Chad uses his experience in his day-to-day duties for the Foundation. Some of his tasks include maintaining the Running 4 Heroes social media channels, emceeing the 1-mile tribute runs that Zechariah puts on for the fallen, and maintaining the day-to-day budgeting of Running 4 Heroes, just to name a few.
Tim Nazzaro comes to the Board of Directors with 24 years of law enforcement experience in the Central Florida area. His last 22 years have been with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando. He currently holds the rank of Sergeant and works on the Tourist Oriented Policing Squad in the Patrol division. Tim is a graduate of the State University of New York at Delhi, where he earned a degree in Architectural Technologies.
Tim is also a bagpiper who plays with the Central Florida 1st Responders Pipe and Drum Band, and has routinely helped honor fallen heroes during Zechariah’s runs with his piping.
Chris Sileo has a long history of public service and a track record of appreciation for First Responders. His family holds many members who are current or former Sheriff Officers, Deputies, Military Veterans, Government Employees, and more. Chris has seen the daily deluge these First Responders go through and has made it a goal to give back in every way possible.
Chris owns Awake Marketing Agency, which does work for many non-profits, small businesses, and others. He is also a REALTOR® and gives back a portion of his commission directly to his First Responder clients.
Chris was an early supporter of Zechariah and his Tunnel to Towers mission, and is now honored and humbled to serve on the Board of Directors for the Running 4 Heroes organization.
Jeffrey Taylor is a native of the Ozark Mountain region and lives in Central Florida with his children. He is a licensed CPA in the State of FL, a Licensed CMA, and a member of the AICPA and IMA. He also owns his own business, Allan Taylor, CPA.
Prior to becoming a Communications Soldier in the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, Jeffrey worked as an HVAC technician in a family business, a firefighter, and a concrete finisher. The Army provided opportunities to cross function, where he rotated through roles in logistics, machine-gun paratrooper, and signal battalion medic. Jeffrey also volunteered his time with local schools and helped soldiers prepare their taxes pro-bono. After his honorable discharge from the Army, Jeffrey obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a Master’s degree in Accountancy from Stetson University.
In early 2010, Jeffrey was appointed to the IRS Special Enforcement Unit in Maitland, Florida as a field agent. Working with FICPA, Florida’s DBPR, and the FL Board of Accountancy, he was influential in driving change to the FL CPA requirements in 2012. After approximately a decade of enforcement work, he transferred to DOD to audit defense contracts and start @CPA, LLC – an accounting firm that specializes in tax resolution and compliance engagements.
Jeffrey met Zechariah and Chad during a compliance engagement for the charitable organization and was impressed to see what a great job they were doing. After realizing that Zechariah has a better patch and award collection than most children his age have baseball cards, Jeffrey gladly signed on to support the mission by providing treasury services and monitoring compliance with federal and state regulations.
Camrin Northrop comes from a small town in upstate New York and currently resides in South Carolina. He is a Captain for the Shaw Air Force Base Fire Department (USAF AD), a Lieutenant for the Sumter County SC Fire Department, and the director of safety for the Sumter Speedway. Camrin is certified to the Fire Officer 3 level and is always seeking avenues for further professional development.
He has been in the fire protection field for 10 years and has served overseas in an undisclosed location as a firefighter for 6 months with the USAF. He is an active member in the community and loves helping others in many different capacities, including as a mentor for local schools, which he has been doing since 2017. Camrin is honored to be part of the Running 4 Heroes mission!
Chonda Loder is an 8-year US Navy Veteran. While on active duty, she performed small boat operations and finished her tour with recruiting as a Special Warfare Scout. After the military she pursued being an EMT and personal trainer. She believes that fitness can change the outcome of a person’s mindset and health. As a mother, Chonda moved on from 12 hour rotating shifts to working at the VA to help Veterans. She currently runs the Running 4 Heroes Military page on Facebook and believes in this mission for many reasons. The people behind the scenes have a strong ethical and moral compass, and what this mission does as a whole provides comfort to the families of these heroes that they are not forgotten and their sacrifices do not go unnoticed.
Charlene “Charlee” Jennings is a police officer in Texas. She has spent most of her life in the South Plains area of Texas. Charlee enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at the age of 18 and received an honorable discharge after a deployment to Iraq and Africa. She then went on to serve the public as a parking control officer, then a jailer in the city holding facility, and now as a police officer in the Texas panhandle. She is a 10 year veteran with the department serving as a property crimes detective.
Charlee has a passion for public service, and has been heavily involved with Toys for Tots while in the Marine Corps, and is currently involved with the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) for the Special Olympics. She assisted in organizing the LETR along with other essential logistics for the organization. Charlee is also a loving mom and loving wife to her Police Officer husband.
Bernadene Loemker is from the “Show Me” State of Missouri and has resided in St. Louis upon graduating from the University of Missouri. She graduated from the Columbia, Missouri police academy in 1985, where she served as a Reserve Police Officer before leaving for St. Louis and attending the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Police Academy in 1986. Upon graduation, she worked at the St. Louis Lambert International Airport where achieved the rank of Sergeant. Her law enforcement career included Patrol, Evidence/Property, Supervisor of the Police Record Room (UCR), and Deputy Bureau Commander of the Bureau of Security Operations.
Although she left law enforcement several years ago, she continues to remain active and supportive when it comes to law enforcement and the community. She has volunteered her personal time to ALIVE (a domestic violence program) and the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation. Most recently, she and her daughter have taken the initiative to handcraft blue mosaic crosses for the family members of those law enforcement officers in the St. Louis area who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Bernadene has the passion and commitment to honoring first responders, which she believes is needed now more than ever. Once blue, always blue.
Dillon Hunter is a resident of a small town in the Central New York region. He comes from a family with many generations of military and first responder members. From a young age, Dillon has been inspired to follow in the footsteps of his relatives and serve the community as a first responder. Since 2017, he has been serving as a volunteer firefighter for the Weedsport Volunteer Fire Department, where he currently holds the tiles of Lieutenant and Vice President. Dillon has also obtained his Associates degree in criminal justice with hopes of starting a career in law enforcement. Dillon is grateful to serve on the Board of Directors for Running4Heroes, after Zechariah honored his late uncle, who passed away from 9-11 related illness, in September 2019.
Phyllis Marshall been married to a first responder for over a decade. Her brother and sister were police officers, and father was a fireman when she was young. Her son was a Houston Police Officer for over 14 years until his recent medical retirement. He was also a volunteer fireman and EMT before he was a police officer. Phyllis has grown up with and has been surrounded by first responders her entire life.
She first became acquainted with Running 4 Heroes after the tragic crash of a Houston police helicopter on May 2, 2020. Her son was the pilot and was seriously and permanently injured in the crash. He was honored by Zechariah as the May 2020 recipient of the Running4Heroes Injured First Responder Grant. Zechariah also honored and ran for her son’s Tactical Flight Officer, Jason Knox, who sadly lost his life in the crash. Phyllis knew Jason and his family personally and knows firsthand how important Zechariah and this organization means to all first responders and their families.
Phyllis has worked with the Houston Police Department and Houston Police Officer’s Union on many occasions to organize and support their benefits and fundraisers. She has been named the honorary mother of the Houston Police Department by the Houston Police Officer’s Union. She is close to many of their board members, as well as the Assistant Chief and several Commanders with the Houston Police Department.
Phyllis helped design and donate the very first Heroes Hero Award which was given to another Houston police officer in August 2020. She was truly proud and grateful to be a small part of this wonderful mission. She recognizes the dedication, time, and effort Zechariah and his entire family puts into this mission and enjoys watching Zechariah go forward and grow with the cause.
Travis Pruitt comes from Ridgeway, Virginia (a small town in Southwest Virginia), home of Martinsville Speedway and the well-known Ridgeway Clocks. He is the current Captain (Chief Operating Officer) for Ridgeway District Volunteer Rescue Squad, Inc., which is a volunteer non-profit rescue squad in Henry County, VA. He is also a life member of the agency and has been a dedicated volunteer for the past 15 years. Travis is certified as a Virginia Emergency Medical Technician along with a handful of other certifications, including CPR, Swiftwater Rescue, Flood Rescue Technician, and a certified Drone Operator.
Travis has been involved in the public safety arena since he was 16 years old. He was a 911 Telecommunicator for 11 years before moving on to his current job as a Public Safety Trainer for Southern Software, Inc., which is a public safety software vendor. Travis is certified as an Emergency Number Professional (ENP).
Travis loves to teach and instruct within the community and schools. He is a certified CPR and Stop the Bleed instructor which are two particularly important, lifesaving classes that he teaches often within the community and school systems. He believes that the youth is the future of our society and supports them in many endeavors. Zechariah and his mission are so important, and Travis is incredibly honored to be part of the Running 4 Heroes mission!
Assistant Port Director Kompel Verdi began her career as a member of the Law Enforcement Explorer Program. She joined the U.S. Customs Service Explorer Program in 1990 at age 15 while she was a sophomore at Francis Lewis High School in Queens, New York. Verdi was a member of Post 4701 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), where she participated in local and national competitions and served as the editor of the monthly newsletter. At JFK, Verdi held several key leadership positions, including president of the Explorer Officer’s Association for the Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America.
During her sophomore year at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Verdi was selected as a Co-op Customs Inspector for the U.S. Customs Service. She went on to graduate magna cum laude with a B.A. in Criminal Justice and minors in Sociology and Police Science in June 1998.
One month later in July 1998, Verdi was hired as a U.S. Customs Inspector, assigned to Passenger Operations at JFK for her first seven years. She rose through the ranks of the agency as it transitioned to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, becoming a first-line supervisor in August 2006, a Deputy Chief in January 2013 and a Watch Commander in March 2016. As part of JFK’s management team, Verdi helped oversee one of the nation’s busiest International Airports. In 2014, Verdi received an award titled “Leaders of Tomorrow” from CBP New York Field Office Director of Field Operations Robert Perez. The award highlighted her achievements from Explorer to Watch Commander.
In May 2017, Verdi was promoted to her current rank of Assistant Port Director assigned to Passenger Operations and then, Trade Operations for the Area Port of Orlando which processes nearly three million international passengers per year and tons of international cargo shipments. The Area Port encompasses operations at Orlando International Airport (MCO), Port Canaveral, Sanford Orlando International Airport and four User Fee Airports. Verdi currently has oversight of over 300 employees.
Verdi continues to be passionate and is a key component overseeing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Explorer Program.
Verdi is married, a mother to 2 wonderful boys and spends her off time traveling and photographing memorable moments with her family.
Kent Chivington is originally from the great Buckeye State of Ohio. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1985 while a Senior in High School and spent the next twelve years serving our country. In 1995, after returning from Okinawa, Japan, he settled in the City of Murrieta, CA, where he began to volunteer with the California Department of Forestry as a Firefighter.
In July 1998, Kent was hired by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and attended the 133rd Basic Academy. Following graduation, he was assigned to the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, where he worked all levels of housing units to include minimum, high risk, behavior health, medical, intake and Bridge Control. He was subsequently promoted to Deputy II and reassigned to the Chino Hills Patrol Station. Between 2004 and 2006 Kent worked Patrol and Traffic Divisions.
In January 2006, Kent transferred to the Murrieta Police Department and was subsequently assigned to the Patrol Division until 2008. In 2008, he was reassigned to the Traffic Division as a DUI/Traffic Accident Investigator. Following his traffic assignment, Kent was promoted to Corporal and reassigned to the Patrol Division as a Field Training Officer and Field Supervisor.
In 2015, he was reassigned to the Special Enforcement Team (Detective Corporal – Narcotics). From 2015 – 2018, he was the Assistant Team Leader for the Team. From 2011 – 2018, Kent had the honor of being a DARE Officer as well as the Police Volunteer Coordinator. In June 2018, he retired from the Murrieta Police Department and accepted a position with San Joaquin Valley College as the Criminal Justice Department Program Director. He is the founder and owner of American Defender Firearms Training, LLC. Kent is a member of 412 Church in Murrieta and volunteers on the Security Team. He is a certified Active Shooter trainer with ALICE and provides Active Shooter Training to local churches.
He has earned an Associate’s Degree in Humanities from Mount San Jacinto College, a Bachelor’s Degree (Cum Laude) in Human Development from Azusa Pacific University, and a Master’s Degree in Strategic Leadership from Mountain State University.
Most importantly, Kent have been happily married to his wife of 30 years and has two wonderful daughters. His eldest daughter is married to a Menifee Police Officer and youngest daughter is married to a Big Bear Fire Department EMT. They have four awesome grandchildren and love spending every available minute with them!
Danielle Abendroth is a long-time resident of Oak Forest, Illinois, along with her husband, Kurt. She is a licensed CPA and worked for one of the leading accounting firms in the Chicago land area for nearly 18 years. In June 2020, Danielle branched out on her own and opened Abendroth Accounting & Tax Services, Inc. in Tinley Park.
Danielle has been an avid supporter of First Responders for quite a while now. Having several close friends who are current or retired police officers and firefighters has only made it even more personal for Danielle. In addition to Running 4 Heroes, she is a supporter and/or sponsor for several non-profit organizations including The Schofield Family Foundation, Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics and a local organization founded by one of her hometown’s firefighters called Project Fire Buddies, to name a few.
Danielle is on the Board of Directors for Kidz Play, NFP, a local non-profit organization for children, she serves as the President of her Homeowner’s Association and is the treasurer of the Oak Forest-Crestwood Chamber of Commerce.
Danielle says, “Giving back has always been important to me; I am very honored to be part of Running 4 Heroes and supporting its mission.”
Kevin Fitzgerald currently serves as a Firefighter/EMT aboard NAS Jacksonville as a civilian member of the First Coast Navy Fire & Emergency Services. Kevin got his start in the fire service right out of high school in Wilmington, NC. At the age of 18, he knew that this was a path towards doing the right things. He recognized his calling and passion for serving others. Kevin started volunteering with the Winter Park Volunteer Fire Department. While there, he worked hard to get his training and certifications completed so he could pursue the fire service full time. As a result, his hard work paid off and he was able to start with New Hanover County Fire Rescue as a part-time firefighter, eventually earning full-time status.
While still active at Winter Park, Kevin was offered a chance to join the Board of Directors, then became President of the Board at the age of 21. He continued to successfully navigate the department through changes and eventually transitioned over to an officer role, tasked with training until the department ceased operations in 2005. During this, an opportunity to work for the United States Army was presented, and in 2004, Kevin was hired by Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point as a Firefighter/EMT in the civilian capacity. Kevin was integral in managing departmental logistics and creating the Marine Firefighting for Land Based Firefighters curriculum, which received accreditation. Kevin met his amazing wife Jenni in 2007 and was married in 2008. They stayed in Wilmington until 2014 when they moved to Maine to work at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Their stay in Maine did not last long, as the chance to move to Florida presented itself, and they jumped on it. With over 22 years serving his community, Kevin is grateful to provide more service through Running 4 Heroes.
James Sellers has been married to his wife Amy for over 19 years. He has 5 children. Originally from Spokane, Washington, James moved to Texas with his family in 1988. He began his career in public service as a volunteer firefighter with the Converse Fire Department in his hometown. James served as a 911 dispatcher and code enforcement officer for the City of Live Oak before taking a job in New Braunfels Texas. He currently serves as a lieutenant in the New Braunfels Fire Department where is has worked in 2005. He comes from a family of public servants, as his mother and father were both in the United States Air Force. His sister and brother-in-law both work in law enforcement in Helotes, Texas. Many of his immediate family members are also serving as law enforcement officers in numerous cities in Texas. James spends his off time teaching for Louisiana State University as well as Texas State University’s ALERRT Program, which teaches integration between LE and Fire/EMS during active threat events. James looks forward to helping the mission support first responders and their families in any way he can.
William Velez joined the Army Reserves in 2001 as a Mortuary Affairs Specialist and continues to serve. His responsibility is to help honor and care for our fallen soldiers lost in the battlefield.
During his time in service, William has been deployed to Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. William’s main mission in the Army is to return those who paid the last sacrifice in battle to their loved ones back home, a job which is done with Honor, Reverence, and Respect.
William’s grandfather was a Korean War Veteran who guided him through his first years in the Army Reserves until he passed away. William continues his grandfather’s legacy.
In 2013 William joined the Department of Homeland Security as a Customs and Border Protection Officer. He began his career in the Laredo Port of Entry, Texas. He worked there for approximately a year, making many friends in a short time, until he transferred to The Orlando Port of Entry in 2015, where he works today.
As a Customs and Border Protection Officer, William continues to serve and protect our country. Additionally, he is part of the Customs and Border Protection Explorer Program area of Orlando. He loves Running 4 Heroes, has lived a life of serving with Honor and Respect, and he believes that “Children are the key to change the world.”
Blayne Badura comes to the Board of Directors with 27 years of Law Enforcement experience. His last 19 years have been with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Sanford. He currently holds the rank of Sergeant and is assigned night shift patrol supervisor. He is a former Field Training Deputy of 12+ years and is still involved in the training program as an alternate Field Trainer and Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC) Instructor.
Blayne had the pleasure of meeting Zechariah Cartledge in the early months of 2019, when the Running 4 Heroes runs first began. He was able to get to know Zechariah, the mission, and the family. Since then, Blayne has participated in multiple runs with Zechariah over the last 2 years, patrolling behind Zechariah while he honors our fallen heroes.
Blayne believes in the mission and has personally seen the impact on the family members at the Honor the Fallen runs.
It gives Blayne great pride to be part of such a great organization that gives financial assistance and helps fellow brothers and sisters in Law Enforcement and Public Safety, which in-turn allows them to continue to give back to the community.