Krawlin’ for the Fallen

Three-day off-road rally in Keystone celebrates sacrifices of fallen responders

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 11/11/20

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Hundreds of husbands and wives kiss their spouses goodbye each year not knowing their kiss will be their last.

More than 240 law enforcement officers and first responders died …

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Krawlin’ for the Fallen

Three-day off-road rally in Keystone celebrates sacrifices of fallen responders

Posted

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Hundreds of husbands and wives kiss their spouses goodbye each year not knowing their kiss will be their last.

More than 240 law enforcement officers and first responders died this year and Off Road United is honoring them with their annual Krawl’n for the Fallen. They’ve been doing this since 2015, but CEO and co-founder Christy Johnson said this year is especially important as the number of fallen first responders this year is the highest it’s been in years.

“We’ve had so many police suicides this year,” Johnson said. “Two hundred and twenty-eight of them on top of 148 officer deaths and 29 K-9 deaths in 2019. There are more than 230 deaths this year. That’s hundreds of families that have lost somebody integral to their life and our event is about showing them that they have support. We’re there to honor the fallen.”

Johnson’s brother-in-law died in 2003 in the line of duty, and it left her family feeling broken. He died on Father’s Day and the entire family stopped celebrating Father’s Day for years as it became a day of mourning rather than celebration.

They stopped playing the sports they all played together. They found themselves in a hole they couldn’t climb out of and while the support was there for the first few months, Johnson said that support disappears after a while.

Johnson started Off Road United in 2015 to be that support she wished she and her family had all those years ago. It’s held an annual event called Krawl’n for the Fallen every year since the nonprofit was started and 2020 brings the most exciting event yet. It will be held in Keystone Heights for the second time ever at 1266 Airport Road and vendors and entertainment will start on Friday, Nov. 13, night, although pre-registered campers can arrive at noon, Johnson said.

The jeeps will arrive on Saturday and Sunday and that’s where the “Krawl’n” part of the event’s name begins.

“We have all of these jeep drivers going out on the trails for the event and they crawl over anything and everything in their path,” Johnson said. “Whatever we can drive over on the trails, we do.”

Johnson said the jeep trail riding is one of the biggest facets of the event. It costs $80 to drive the trails and $5 to spectate the jeep driving, and all of this money goes back to the charity and partner charities that work to support and honor fallen officers and first responders. The trails aren’t the only option during this year’s Krawl’n for the Fallen.

Johnson said there will be raffles, food vendors, live music, and everything works in tandem to create a weekend of fellowship for those families who have lost a first responder.

The money raised during this year’s event will fund future events for the charity and future initiatives to help the law enforcement and military community.

“We’re an all-around organization and our focus is always on those families that need support,” Johnson said. “This event is such a good time for everyone. It creates lifelong memories and friendships, and it reveals the importance of having someone simply listen to your story.

“You have no idea what it’s like to be a survivor and to lose someone like that, it puts into perspective this life we all live. You don’t know kissing your spouse or your father or mother goodbye that they might be gone the next day. Krawl’n for the Fallen is about showing those families that not only are we here for them, but that we want to support their family and honor their loved one.”

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