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Memorial event for Leo goes virtual

Virus cancels annual golf outing

GIRARD — In memory of slain city police officer Justin Leo, members of the community are coming together — but separately — for a virtual run.

“The Justin Leo Virtual Run Registration Challenge was created due to COVID-19 causing the cancellation of the annual Justin Leo Scholarship Golf Outing. This golf outing serves as the main fundraiser for scholarship funds,” states the event’s Facebook page.

This event was created by Amanda Archer with the help of Girard police Chief John Norman and Justin Leo’s parents, Pat and David.

The Justin Leo Scholarship has provided more than $60,000 in scholarships to Girard High School students over the past three years, and has also donated about $225,000 in scholarships to Youngstown State University. So far this year, $20,000 has been given out to Girard youth.

Leo, 31, was killed Oct. 21, 2018, while responding to a domestic violence call at 408 Indiana Ave. in Girard. Leo died in surgery after being shot in the chest by Jason Marble. Marble was killed when Leo’s partner, Mathew Jamison, returned fire.

“The community has been there for us when we need them. We can never make sense of this but doing this gives us some peace,” David Leon said. “This really says a lot about the quality of the people here in Girard.”

Because a virtual race can happen any time, anywhere, the event will last all summer through Labor Day. There are two options for the race: a 5K (3.1 miles) or a 72-mile challenge. People can run, walk or bike to complete their miles.

People have been posting “sweaty selfies” along with their progress in the “The Justin Leo Virtual Run Challenge” Facebook group.

“We surpassed 800 registrations … people have registered in 38 states and in Italy,” Leo said. “I’m over 60 miles already because I walk every day but I’ve gotten some phone calls about people who are going to try to reach 324 miles before Labor Day.”

Although registration closed May 31, Leo said he doesn’t believe the event will turn away anyone.

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