11-year-old runs in honor of Jacksonville officer who died of COVID-19

Lt. Chris Cunningham died of complications after contracting virus on duty

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An 11-year-old Florida boy who founded the nonprofit Running 4 Heroes ran Saturday night to honor a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office lieutenant who died from complications of coronavirus.

Lt. Chris Cunningham, who also served in the Navy, contracted the virus while on duty.

Cunningham, who was 48, had five children and three grandchildren. He is remembered as a beloved family man who dedicated his life to public service. He worked for JSO for 20 years. He was the commanding lieutenant of the crime scene unit, latent prints and photo lab at the Sheriff’s Office.

Zechariah Cartledge, who founded Running 4 Heroes in 2019, runs one mile while carrying a flag in honor of first responders who have died in the line of duty.

With flags flying in the sky, first responder lights flashing, a line formed along the road as Cartledge ran down First Street in Neptune Beach.

Running beside Cartledge was Cunningham’s colleagues, his family and beloved wife, Gwendolyn.

They finish the race for the beloved officer together and at the end of the mile, Cartledge honored Gwendolyn.

“It means so much,” Gwendolyn Cunningham said. “Just a privilege to have such a young man honor one of our servicemen and it just shows how much JSO officers do in the community and it extends beyond Jacksonville.”

Lieutenant Cunningham lived a life for fitness and good health.

“My husband was an avid runner and I felt this young man gave me something that I would not have been able to do in this honor to take his last run,” Gwendolyn Cunningham said. “This was my husband’s last run.”

Cartledge was recognized this week during the National Fraternal Order of Police Fall Board meeting in Jacksonville and was named an honorary FOP member.

This morning, Zechariah was recognized by the National Fraternal Order of Police for his efforts to honor our fallen...

Posted by Running 4 Heroes Inc. on Saturday, September 5, 2020

Zechariah’s family posted that after arriving in Jacksonville and opting “as is customary” for a steak dinner, they were serendipitously seated in Outback Steakhouse near several Jacksonville police officers.

It was meant to be... We have arrived in Jacksonville, and as is customary, we opted to get steak for dinner. This...

Posted by Running 4 Heroes Inc. on Friday, September 4, 2020