About The Ferguson Run/Walk
Since 2005, family, friends and co-workers of the late Keith Ferguson have gathered at the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City for the Sgt. Keith A. Ferguson Memorial Run/Walk.
For the sixth year, the run/walk will benefit the Sgt. Keith A. Ferguson Scholarship Fund for Criminal Justice at The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College.
Ferguson is the son of Sonia Cunningham, a nursing professor at UTB/TSC. He was a member of the elite New York Police Department Hercules Counter Terrorism Team.
In January 2004, he suffered a heart attack while responding to a fellow officer’s call for back up. While chasing a suspected illegal street vendor on foot, Ferguson collapsed and died. He was 38 years old.
Within days of her son’s funeral, an event that drew 10,000 mourners to a church in Manhattan, Cunningham had launched the scholarship fund in honor of her beloved oldest child.
"I don’t want Keith to be forgotten," Cunningham said "Someone in the future may say, ‘I got a scholarship to go to college’ and they may mention Keith’s name. I’ll be happy with that."
Today, the endowment is valued in excess of $60,000 and more than a dozen students have been awarded scholarships. Two years ago, Cunningham gave herself a new goal of raising $500,000 for the Sgt. Keith A Ferguson Endowed Chair for Criminal Justice, which would be the first endowed chair for the department.
The run/walk is traditionally held several days before Ferguson’s birthday on August 8. However, this year holds special meaning; the run will be held on Ferguson’s birthday. He would have been 45. His fellow officers have not forgotten him. Many of them will again participate in the event.
"Time goes on and people move on. It’s the nature of all us, in our work and in our lives, "said Detective Joe Penny of the NPYD. " But every year, knowing this run is coming up, it reminds us of all the good memories that we have of our friend, Keith."
A Legacy Benefits Students:
In 2008, more than 600 people who participated in the Sgt. Keith A. Ferguson run helped Jazmin Rangel confirm her life’s passion, protecting and serving her community.
"I was able to pay for my classes, I bought my textbooks," Rangel said. "It is really great that Sonia Cunningham is helping students to go to college and earn their criminal justice degree. it’s inspiring to me to know that Keith was a police officer and he died while helping (the country) to become a safer place."
In 2009, Rangel was awarded the Sgt. Keith A. Ferguson Scholarship funded through two 5k run/ walks each year held on the UTB/TSC campus and New York City.
The money provided the senior criminal justice major the opportunity to take an internship course with the Brownsville Police Department.
"I really enjoyed being an intern, because you just don’t realize how much the police department does," she said. "I was able to do ride-alongs and speak to a lot of police officers judges and detectives and I received a lot of advice that I will be able to take with me. It fed more to my calling of going into the criminal justice field."
In the first run in New York City, 125 runners and walkers participated. The funds raised helped to increase the endowment which stood at more than $30,000 all from individual contributions sent by friends and co-workers.
At that inaugural event, the endowment awarded its first scholarship to Abraham Ponce, not only does he forever have the special connection of receiving the Ferguson scholarship, he and Keith also share the same birthday.
"I was honored to represent our students and our university," said Abraham Ponce, then a UTB/TSC criminal justice student. "I was very committed to participating in service projects and taking part in this event, was a highlight for me. I feel a special bond with Keith."