Officer on a mission: Running to honor Missouri's fallen first responders

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JEFFERSON CITY - Blue Springs Police Officer Keegan Hughes is honoring fallen Missouri first responders by running 260 miles. 

"All of them are a amazing to honor," he said

Hughes started his run in St. Louis and will cross the state and finish in Kansas City. He was in Jefferson City Monday.

During each of the nine days of running, Hughes and Project Remember will be honoring a different hero.

"Today is Missouri Highway Patrolman James Bava," Hughes said. 

In January, the trooper's mother, Alyce Bava, was contacted by the Missouri Highway Patrol saying Project Remember wanted to honor her son.

"We so appreciate any organization that is interested in wanting to call attention to the sacrifice and to the work of our law enforcement, our first responders, and to those who answer the call," Alyce Bava said.

James Bava died in 2015 while attempting to pull over Serghei Comerzan, who was speeding on his motorcycle. 

During a brief recognition ceremony Monday, Alyce Bava gave Hughes her son's memorial challenge coin and his state patrol patch as motivation.

"To encourage Keegan in his run and to bring remembrance of why he is running. It's to honor those who fallen," Alyce Bava said. 

Hughes said he is honored to run for all fallen first responders, but he feels a personal connection to James Bava. 

"My cousin Bryan Montgomery is a Missouri state trooper and he went to the police academy with James Bava," Hughes said. 

Hughes was supposed to run through Katy Trail, but because of weather, he is running his 31 daily miles on a treadmill.  

He said it's not just the memory of the fallen that is getting him through.

"Their families have been super supportive and appreciative of what we are doing. And its really been a special journey," Hughes said.

He is not doing it alone. Hughes is accompanied by Independence police detective Wendi Winans and Blue Springs sergeant Colby Lalli, who bike beside him as he runs. Monday, they biked alongside Hughes on stationary bikes. 

"This is the first time I've ever done something like this," Winans said. 

Lalli said, "Yes, it's the first time we've been, I was going to say crazy enough. But you know, what we are doing and what we are honoring and the sacrifices of all law enforcement; this is nothing." 

Hughes' family has also been by his side.

Hughes' run is raising money for non-profit Answering the Call 911, which gives money to first responders and their families in times of need.

People can donate to Answering the Call 911 through its website, and track Hughes' run live on its Project Remember's Facebook page