A fundraising run held in Barrie to honour the memory of an Ontario Provincial Police officer who was killed in the line of duty and who grew up here in the city collected nearly $19,000 to help establish a scholarship in his name.
The inaugural OPP Provincial Constable Greg Pierzchala Memorial Run was held May 13 and saw approximately 1,000 runners and walkers descend upon Heritage Park at the city's waterfront in Pierzchala's honour to participate in the first memorial five-kilometre run in his name.
Ontario Provincial Police say the event raised an "incredible total" of $18,876.
The money will help create a memorial scholarship in Pierzchala's name to be awarded to students of St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School in south-end Barrie, where he attended. The OPP says a portion will also support his hometown church, Holy Spirit Parish.
Provincial police say the Pierzchala family extends its gratitude to everyone who attended and supported the event in his memory.
“We are incredibly grateful to everyone that made this day possible," the Pierzchala family said in a news release. "We’d like to thank everyone from St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School, Holy Spirit Parish, the OPP, the Running Room, and Barrie Police Service that helped organize this run, as well as Tim Hortons for providing food and refreshments.
"We’d also like to thank everyone that participated and contributed to this special event. We are truly touched by all the support we’ve received. Greg was someone that wanted to do good in the world, and we look to further a good cause with the money raised," the family added.
Pierzchala, 28, was killed while responding to a vehicle collision west of Hagersville on Dec. 27, 2022.
He began his career with the OPP on May 20, 2019 as a special constable with the Queen’s Park OPP detachment.
On Sept. 7, 2021, the OPP says he fulfilled his longtime dream to become a police officer and was hired as a recruit to the Haldimand detachment.
Donations can still be made in his honour at holyspiritba.archtoronto.org. In the message box, be sure to mark 'Memorial Run Donation' when submitting a donation.
The second annual OPP Provincial Const. Greg Pierzchala Memorial Run is being planned for 2024.