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Race honors Officer killed by lighting strike

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RIVERSIDE, Mo. -- Runners from around the metro gathered to honor police officer Jeff Taylor in Riverside on Sunday.

Taylor died from a lightning strike, two years ago, following the Joplin tornado.

When tornados ravaged Joplin, Missouri in the spring of 2011, Riverside police officer, Jeff Taylor, was quick to volunteer his assistance. Rusty Rives was a friend and co-worker of Taylor’s, who worked alongside him at the police academy in Joplin. Rives was one of hundreds who ran for Jeff.

"This is a good chance for us to support our brothers and sisters in public safety and gives us a chance to pay back and pay into things that may happen tragically for them," he said.

The proceeds from the race go to the Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund, which gives immediate and ongoing assistance to family members of police, firefighters and EMS personnel who have died in the line of duty.

"Benefits that we give them allow some people to say oh I can male my house payment this month or i will be able to keep my house.   It’s a great feeling for us to be able to do that," said Sonny Wilson of the Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund.

Taylor left behind a wife and two small boys, his parents, sister, and grandparents, who were all at Sunday’s race to honor his memory.

Taylor’s former k-9 partner flash also sat at the finish line.  The German Shepard is almost 10 years old, and had retired after several years of service beside Taylor. He still lives with Taylor’s family.

In addition to his service, Taylor was also an organ donor and gave at least four of his uninjured organs to keep others alive.

"A man received a kidney and it’s changed his life tremendously, and his ability to play and act with his children and grandchildren," said Steve Taylor, Taylor's father.

Runners came from all over to remember and thank Taylor. Joplin residents were among the many who participated in honoring him for his sacrifice.

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