MOUNT VERNON — When you see someone from law enforcement or firefighting break into a run, chances are it’s toward a problem. That’s typical behavior among men and women in uniform who instinctively confront dangers most people avoid.
Saturday morning was different. There were no police emergencies or fires at Knox Community Hospital’s Center for Rehabilitation and Wellness, so a gathering of police, corrections officers, deputies, firefighters and prosecutors ran for bragging rights and the fun of it. More accurately, they competed in a first-time event known as the Law Enforcement and Firefighter Fitness Challenge.
There were four teams in the competition, and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Mount Vernon Fire Department, Mount Vernon Police Department and local prosecutors each came away with at least one award. Top prize in the team challenge, which was based on improvement of fitness level since June, went to the sheriff’s “Jailbirds,” Kreig Cline, Chad Kennedy, David Light and Kate Staffeldt.
The Fitness Challenge was initially proposed by Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher, and KCH Wellness Coordinator Jason Mentzer jumped right on board. He devised a six-part event including pushups, sit-ups and runs of 300 meters and 1.5 miles, as well as flexibility and body-mass testing. Entrants established a fitness baseline in June, then repeated the six challenges on Saturday.
“The idea is to measure improvement, so people can participate and do well even if they are not in the best of shape,” Thatcher said. “I think it’s good to have activities like this outside of the work setting. We hope to make it an annual event.”
There were plenty of good-natured jokes, and several competitors commended the center’s director, Debbie Link, for strategically locating the event just down the hill from the KCH Emergency Department.
“Now you know why I became an attorney,” Mount Vernon Law Director Chip McConville quipped as physical therapist Darcy Gronberg tallied his pushups.
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