Thursday, July 26, 2007


“It’s all about the kids!" Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper AJ Torres said he has been involved in Operation Open Heart for the last 17 years because of the kids. “I just like kids and this is my way of giving back.” Like the other Officers everybody donates their time to this weeklong event, some even using their vacation time to participate. For Trooper Torres he has a personal reason as well. “My mother was a foster child and her and my father raised me to give back. I also have a lot of fun with the kids and the other Officer’s and volunteers who participate each year.”

Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper David Harper formed Operation Open Heart in 1962. Harper, being an orphan himself, wanted to show these children, who were placed in the court system, that Policemen were their friends, and not someone to fear. So with a few of his friends, Harper took about 15 kids on an all-day picnic.

As the years went by, there were more kids then adults. So, Harper began receiving support from the community. Now, on the 45th anniversary, the campout is a weeklong event with 40 kids. The kids have been treated to Air Plane rides, Boat rides, Putt-Putt, bowling and more. They will also be treated to a fireworks show on the final night.

Operation Open Heart continues giving and interacting with the kids throughout the year, taking 125 kids to Geauga Lake Amusement Park for the day. They also deliver turkeys to families on Thanksgiving and pass out presents on Christmas.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great program to help these kids out. But I have to say driving these kids around the county with lights and sirens going moving in and out of traffic and going through intersections is WRONG! Someone is going to get injured or killed. I have no doubt that the officers are the best at driving this way and they know what can happen but I also know that there are people driving in the procession that aren't trained to drive this way. Don't get me wrong I think the actual program is great but driving these kids around like that needs to stop before something bad happens. It's a hell of a law suite waiting to happen. It is also illegal according to the Ohio Revised Code. If a citizen has a green light and hits one of these vehicles in the procession whose fault would it be since the police vehicle is not on an emergency? I'd have to bet the citizen would win that one. There has to be a safer way to transport these kids without putting so many other people in jeopardy. R Haas.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous James said...

Dude calm down... They were going no more than like 25 around cars and they were making complete stops at intersections.. They were taking no risk i seen them first hand since i live / work on the streets they have went down. For the kids to be that happy thats a good thing... KEEP IT UP OHIO

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ouch....... Can you state what revised code in Ohio it violates?

7:57 AM  
Anonymous matt said...

4511.041- says that ONLY while responding to an EMERGENCY can a police or emergency vehicle exempt themselves from certain traffic laws.
I don't live any were close to this town, but I'll tell you this..You break the law...even if your trying to be COOL to kids and if I'm on the jury....YOUR GUILTY!!!!And your going to Pay UP!

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've witnessed this event several times and have scene the cars flying through intersections and around traffic. I agree it is a nice thing to do, but safety does need to come first, even if it is 25 mph, one little second could cost alot.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!!!! People will find anything to complain about......and if they were giving out $100 bills, there would be a complaint about that as well. Get real folks!! These were underprivileged kids having the time of their lives. Talk to those folks who participated. Many of them told me it was truly a life memory experience. Please don't ruin this event by nit picking everything!!! Go out today and do something nice for a charity instead of complaining about this!! Get a LIFE!!!

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see the point about nit picking it apart, but imagine the headlines if a car had the green light and t-boned a cruiser and killed an innocent child sitting in a cruiser going through an intersection with lights and sirens. I see your point about helping the kids and I know they get a big kick out of it as well any charity would, but to me, safety first.

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I hate to tell ya all. This has been going on for years. Now ya all are complaining about it. Well here is a clue for you become a foster parent or adopt one. Then you won't have to worry about them getting hurt. You can give them a good life. Maybe you might have a family to do things with but they don't. This is one week for them to bond with kids like them. They also have fun and live a little. Gosh, I think you need to get a life!!!!

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Michael Petruzzi said...

I have been reading the comments about Operation Open Heart and although I agree that the program is outstanding I do see the other side of this debate. It would be horrible if something were to happen while the kids were being transported in one of the cars and I think organizers only bring on additional problems with driving them with lights and sirens. I have read up on the law and I do believe that the people opposing this practice are correct, it is not within the law to drive with lights and sirens without going to an emergency.

Should they keep doing it or not, I don’t know. I bet the kids do enjoy it and it is a good program. Maybe the people who run Operation Open Heart will reevaluate this part of their program and tone it down a bit in the future.

I would also like to say to those anonymous posters who are telling people who oppose the idea of driving lights and sirens with the kids in the car to take a breath and stop telling people who sign their names to their posts to get a life or to take one of these children in. This is America and freedom of speech, although not as free as it use to be, is still one of the freedoms we enjoy. You may post your reply to their thoughts but to say get a life only makes you seen like an idiot who does not know how to debate your side of an issue.

In closing, I would like to thank all of the officers who donate their time to such a great cause. I didn’t know until I saw this story that many give up their vacation time to do this. Great Job!

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's wonderful.

2:25 AM  

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