Running for Heroes honored fallen St. Louis firefighter K-9 Balko

ST. LOUIS – FOX 2 has learned of a national effort not to forget Balko, a K9 from the St. Louis Fire Department who died in the line of duty last week.

Early Sunday evening, Morgan, a 12-year-old girl in New Jersey, will run a mile carrying a “Red Line” fire department flag. Morgan just ran last Sunday night with a police “Blue Line” flag in honor of Andrés Mauricio Vásquez Lasso, the 32-year-old Chicago police officer who was shot dead on duty March 1.

Morgan is one of seven young runners from the United States running a mile to Honoring fallen first responders. They are part of a charity called Run 4 heroes.

Former St. Louis Airport Police Officer Bernadene Loemker, who sits on the organization’s board of directors, knew Balko needed recognition.

“Now I can honestly say I totally get it,” said Loemker. “I don’t think the rest of the world does that which is why when this happened to Balko it was so important that our organization honor him because the bond is just amazing.”

Balko was trained to sniff out human remains. He was assisting police in the search for a beaten victim in the vacant, downed former famed Barr Building in downtown St. Louis when he fell last Friday. No beaten victim was found. His leader and the fire brigade were devastated.

“Just as you would lose a family member for his handler, Fireman (Brent) Sevener, and not just Fireman Sevener, but Fireman Sevener and his family because Balko went home with him,” said Capt. Garon Mosby, St. Louis Fire department.

Young volunteer runners from Running 4 Heroes have run for 1,467 human volunteers in the four years since the group was founded by a Florida teenager. They ran for K9 officers 64 times. According to Loemker, Balko will be the first from a fire brigade. The red line flag from the barrel and a handwritten note from the will go to his handler.

Running for Heroes is raising money to help the families of injured and fallen first responders. The group also helps purchase supplies and safety equipment for K9. Above all, the group sends a message.

“You will be missed but never forgotten, and we don’t want to let Balko be forgotten.”
said Lömker.

Morgan will see to that on Sunday in New Jersey. Running for Heroes honored fallen St. Louis firefighter K-9 Balko

Sarah Y. Kim

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