"My heart broke the day I learned of the four Victorian Police officers killed in a road crash."
These are the words of former Southern Highlands resident Constable Gabrielle Johnson about the death of four police officers on April 22.
The group of officers were standing next to the Eastern Freeway in Melbourne after pulling over a Porsche driver, Richard Pusey. They were tragically all killed when a truck crashed into them.
The heartbreak of the deaths of their colleagues resonated with every other police officer around the country.
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Constable Johnson, who grew up in Bowral and attended both St Thomas Aquinas Catholic School and Chevalier College, now serves as an officer in the Eastern region of Melbourne in the Victorian Police.
"I didn't personally know the members although a number of close colleagues had known them," she said.
"While I didn't meet them, I - and I believe all of the policing family - definitely feel a strong sense of connection to one another whether we know one another or not."
It is this sense of connection and sadness that resonated through Const Johnson's department.
"I felt a bit lost with what to do or how to process it," she said.
"A few of my work colleagues were talking about the idea of doing a fundraiser run and how the money raised could go to the families of the four members.
"I thought it was a great idea and decided to be apart of it.
"I think there are over 300 members who have also decided to take on the challenge, which is amazing.
"We have raised over $300,000."
The memory of the four officer who were killed in crash is well and truly entrenched in the fundraising run.
The distance covered by the participants is159.485km. While this would seem to many as an unusual running target it makes perfect sense to the officers involved.
The 159.485kms represents the four member's registered numbers combined.
- 40.942km for Senior Constable Kevin King
- 45.438km for Constable Joshua Prestney
- 45.688km for Constable Glen Humphris
- 27.417km for Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor.
The registered number is what every police officer receives during their time at the academy.
Const Johnson has enlisted the support of a faithful friend to help her complete the distance - her much-loved Red Heeler, Reggie.
They have been running throughout May to meet their target by the end of the month and raise as many funds as possible for Police Legacy, the charity tasked with distribution of funds.
The run is throughout the month of May.
Const Johnson said that while she didn't really have a training plan she has now hit her straps.
"The first couple days I just did 2.5 km runs to ease into it and gradually pushed it up to 5-6 kms," she said.
"We have been running a few different tracks in our local area just so we don't get bored of doing the same one."
And her four-legged offsider is the perfect running partner.
"Reggie is loving it!" she said.
"He is just happy to be there. I call him my little red shadow when we go for runs.
"He has his ball in his mouth and runs right next to me.
"Cattle dogs have a lot of energy in general and love their routine. So it's been good for him.
"He's also lost a few kilos in the process which is a positive, he was getting a bit chunky..."
Const Johnson said that while she didn't have a personal fundraising goal for the run, she had been overwhelmed by the support so far.
"It's incredible to see how generous people are," she said.
"I want to send out a big thank you to everyone who has supported me through this fundraiser.
"I am very grateful."
Donations can still be made through her page 'Gabby and Reg' on everydayhero.com or directly through Police Legacy.
Police Legacy takes care of the families of the members who have died serving or who have previously served Victoria Police.