La Marathon 2008 – In Memory of Randy Simmons

Sunday, March 2, 2008 @ 04:03 PM Author:
La Marathon 2008 - In Memory of Randy Simmons Lisa, Matthew and Gabriella La Marathon la marathon SWAT Officers Running in memory of Randy Simmons A group of about 30 SWAT officers from the Los Angeles Police Department were running as part of a memorial dedicated to Officer Randal Simmons, who died in the line of duty last month. Some of the officers ran the race as a relay, carrying a torch that was handed off every three miles until it was finally passed to Simmons’ teenage son, Matthew, who carried the flame from mile 25 to the finish line. “It was an honor and a privilege to run for my father,” Matthew said. “I’m sure he’s looking down and is pleased.” View Video coverage SWAT team passes the torch for fallen comrade

By Jill Painter Staff Writer _ Los Angeles Protective League With about 30 LAPD SWAT members around him, Matt Simmons took a torch and ran the final mile of the Los Angeles Marathon. Matt is a sprinter, not a distance runner, but he was pushed through the streets of downtown by cheers, inspirational messages like “keep your head up” and well wishes. He ran the final leg of a relay celebrating his dad’s life with 30 men he calls uncles.

Matt is the 15-year-old son of LAPD officer Randal Simmons, who was shot and killed by a gunman in Winnetka last month.

Simmons’ colleagues honored him by lighting the torch at the start of the marathon and passing it between the hands of 30 members of the SWAT team, culminating with Matt. “It meant a lot to honor him,” Matt said. “It was a privilege. I’m sure my father would’ve been very happy.” Randall, 51, once did the L.A. Marathon by pushing a quadriplegic in a wheelchair all 26.2 miles. He didn’t like to run much, Matt said, but he did it to stay healthy.

Matt, a sophomore at Bishop Montgomery High in Torrance, spent the morning at a football combine at the HomeDepot Center before he anchored the marathon relay.

Randal’s wife, Lisa, and daughter, Gabrielle, were at the finish line. Afterward, Gabrielle held a framed shadow box with a picture of Simmons and a medal for completing the marathon. “I know a lot of people cared,” Gabrielle said. Members of the Simmons family, friends and relay runners wore white T-shirts which had a picture of him on the back. Every mile, a new officer took the torch to honor Simmons. Simmons’ mother, Constance, called her son her “Gentle Giant,” a nickname she gave him after his death. His wife said he’s become an icon. To others, he was friend, mentor and LAPD partner. SWAT team officer James Hart lit the torch and started the race in front of photographers at the start line. He was awed by the reception from people lining the streets and honking their horns. “It was very emotional,” Hart said. “When we made our way downtown, the accolades were overwhelming. We appreciate the citizens and good people of this city.” SWAT officer James Veenstra, who was shot in the jaw by the same gunman that killed Simmons, thanked everyone for cards, encouragement and prayers. His wife, LAPD captain Michelle Veenstra, stood by his side as he made a statement. “The healing process couldn’t happen without it,” Veenstra said. “I’ll try to send out thank yous, but I’ll probably miss some folks. To those who bolstered us up in a hard time, we appreciate it, and we’re indebted to them.”

2 Responses to “La Marathon 2008 – In Memory of Randy Simmons”

  1. Juanita says:

    I ask God to Bless and Protect the Simmons family members and the LAPD SWAT team. I am a believer in Christ, but I am trying to understand why God would not want to let a man so devoted to God, family and the community to stay here to help show the rest of us “the way”. Perhaps God just wanted to give Officer Simmons peace, perhaps He had a bigger job for him in Heaven. I just don’t know, but I am asking God for wisdom and for His Blessings on the Simmons family.

  2. Charinda & Don Harris says:

    Lisa,

    Don and I have you n our thoughts constantly. We love you and just want you to know you’re in our prayers. You and Randy have been such an inspiration to us. We have begun to read the bible, a chapter at a time, every night with the kids. We’re also striving to pray as a family, every night. We love you and will call soon.