Thursday, July 24, 2008


“It’s all about the kids!"
If you happened to see a line of Police cars going through your town this week and wondered why they were all loaded with kids, well its “Operation Open Heart” week again.

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, almost 50 years later, the campout is a weeklong event with up to 40 kids. The kids have been treated to Air Plane rides, Boat rides, Putt-Putt, bowling and more. They are also treated to a fireworks show on the final night.

We caught up with the “Operation Open Heart” Motorcade on Wednesday afternoon as they were heading through Elyria. They had just finished a morning of Bowling in Sheffield Lake and were on their way to lunch at the AmVets on Middle Ave in Carlisle Township. Volunteers from the AmVets supplied, prepared and served a pasta dish and meatball subs along with sodas and chips. The highlight at the AmVets came after lunch with the water fights. Most of the children were armed with water balloons and water guns.

Then there was one particular “adult” who will remain nameless because I do not need anymore traffic tickets – who used a 5 gallon bucket to drench people. Fellow Officers and Campers got him back a short time later when they ambushed him with a small swimming pool filled with ice water that had been used to hold the pop cans. Brrrrrr!

The Water Fight King trophy however went to Lt. Randy Feakins of the Carlisle Township Fire Department. Feakins, while all the kids and Officers were gathered around a tank for a group picture fired a blast of water from Carlisle Engine 7 over the crowd making sure everyone got wet. (See photos 24 & 25 to watch the Magician running)

“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.”

To see more photos from the day: CLICK HERE – Don’t miss the water fight photos. See if you can figure out who had the 5 gallon bucket.


Anonymous Heather said...

That was engine 7 not 4. Four is a rescue sqaud. Just wanted to let you know. :)

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great organization. My family has been involved in it for years. It is nice to have good publicity for the police officers that are involved.

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw them rolling thru Vermilion late yesterday afternoon. Great job everyone! Looks like lots of fun was had by all!

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I mentioned this before. I think this is a great program for these kids but I am totally against driving the kids through the city streets going code 3 (lights and sirens). I have no doubt that the officers and other drivers in the procession are as safe as can be but this is a tragity waiting to happen. I have been driving emergency vehicles for over 20 years and I've seen first hand what can happen when drivers don't pay attention. There is no reason to put these kids, officers and other drivers at risk just for a thrill. Haas

8:41 AM  
Blogger e318 said...

Nice job TMC....It looks like A.J. Torres.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous James said...

Its great to see how the police ems and fire come together and make this week rock for all the little ones.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that it is great that so many Police Departments are able to get their officers involved. What a great way to help kids!

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that it is great that so many Police Departments are able to get their officers involved. What a great way to help kids!

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody cared about your comment last year Hass and it seem no one does this year as well.

Let it go. They have units blocking intersection long before the kids drive through them. Those kids are safer than when they are on the bus going to school.

These kids are having a time to remember and the relationship they are building with law enforcement could last a life time.

So relax. They'll handle it fine. Just as they have for many many years.


2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Haas!!! I was worried that everyone would appreciate how special it is, but thankfully you have raised your head to spoil the moment!!! Keep it up!!!

8:52 PM  
Anonymous James said...

Haas - I'm normaly on your side but on this one its about the kids how would you like it if you were a kid like that and they took you and made all your problems go away for a day or week. its great what they do and as someone above said the roads were blocked before they got there as you can see in some of the pics. GREAT JOB LORAIN COUNTY EMERGENCY RESPONDERS

10:39 PM  
Anonymous sam said...

why are these kids so important to cart around for a week in police cars?

5:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all who responded to my comments. Thanks for your response. I'll state again that I am not against the program. If you are emergency workers then you are aware of the risks of driving like that. Did the squad cars that blocked the intersections have kids in them? If you want to get technical the Ohio revised code states an emergency vehicle will not operate lights and siren on streets, higways, etc unless on an emergency.I know the officers are trained in defensive driving and are very safe but I also know there are some in the procession that aren't trained. The aren't even in the safety forces. Again I think it is a great program but I think they have to concider the risks involved in driving like that. Another question reguarding the procession, If a driver does not pull over for them do they get a ticket? BTW if you can not sign your name to your comments I don't take them serious. Haas

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, Thank you to all of the people that helped make this possible. I was involved in this program a few years back and it is a FANTASTIC Program. These kids appreciate EVERYTHING you guys do for them and it builds a GREAT relationship between police officers and the children. Second of all, HASS, this is probaby the safest car ride these kids will be in. When they run code, they do not drive at "code speeds", they drive the speed limit and are paying attention. They try to avoid all intersections that are high accident areas and yes I know it is possible for someone who is not paying attention to strike one of these cars BUT You have 18 Cruisers going Code. Who isnt going to hear that/see that?? If it makes you feel any better, they have some firefighters involved. If you want you can come out and play but you have to like foster kids and police officers which I am just guessing, you dont like either so I guess you can just stay at home and pull up TMC NEWS and keep clicking refresh waiting for a new story to complain about.

Ps: Pozy what the hell are you doing? :)

Thank You,
Justin Yost
Elyria Resident
Open Heart Supporter FOR YEARS

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You TMCNEWS for covering a story that really makes a difference. Keep up the great work. All the other news sources in the area need to follow in your footsteps and start reporting on the positive things in life instead of all the negatives. Open Heart Members you guys are the true leaders in your community and if you ever think differently ask one of those kids from camp and listen to what they think of you. God Bless All Your Members And The Kids Who Take Part In Your Camp!!!

12:17 PM  
Anonymous James said...

Haas - I know what your talking about but im sure the cops arnt going code 3 like 50mph and stuff. and yes if something happend it would open a whole new world to people saying oh thats not right thats wrong it wasent an emergency. i see both sides of the story but to see the smiles on the kids faces as there driving through the city with lights and sirens on its great. Just glad there was alot of willing officers out there. and i sign my name lol

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Justin, They do go through major intersections! And I have no problem with police officers. I have good friends who are police and know many others. I have no problem with foster kids either. My mother was one. I've said my feelings on this so let it rest. To all other posters, my name is spelled HAAS not Hass. See how people don't pay attention?

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Eric L. said...

Thanks for all the support folks! I have been a member for a few years but have been involved for about 9. I understand there is risk with what we do but the risk is very minimal and the result is something that CANNOT be summed up in words. We can pull up the revised code and pick at it all we what, but when it comes down to it, we have not had a problem in 46 years and I doubt there will be one in the future. Many precautions are taken along with what roads we are traveling, who blocks, etc.

Please check out our website at for more information. Feel free to leave a long lasting comment or check out what agencies are involved!

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it was spelled H-ass on purpose?

Love the "some of my best friends are cops" defense.


It was what it was. I'm glad the kids had a good time. We don't need to over-shadow it with a blog war.


11:19 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

I read all the comments on the debate over cops driving code 3 with the kids in the car. I must say that every time I have seen this over the years I thought the same, is this a good idea?

I agree with Haas, it seems like a tragic accident waiting to happen. I think operation open heart is an outstanding program and I can only guess that it goes a long way with improving relationships between cops and kids. The fact that these cops give up a week or more of their own free time to put on this event is phenomenal and they should all be commended for their dedication.

The question is, how important is it that they go code 3 with the kids in the cars through the cities. Would kids not bond with the cops if they didn’t have the lights and sirens going? Would the program be diminished in anyway if they changed that one aspect of it? If they only drove lights and sirens on straight aways on county roads or areas with light traffic, would that be a bad idea?

Now in reference to those who replied to Haas. One person wrote; “Nobody cared about your comment last year Hass and it seem no one does this year as well. Let it go. They have units blocking intersection long before the kids drive through them. Those kids are safer than when they are on the bus going to school.”
First of all, how do you know that nobody cared last year or this year? I cared last year and still care today. My guess is that a lot of people who read this site don’t want to respond because of the personal attacks that might come.

I also echo Haas’ comment about not taking comments from anonymous posters seriously. My feeling has always been that the folks who run this site should make people put their name with their comments. If you believe in what you are saying, then be man enough or woman enough, to put your name to it. Not anonymous or pen name.

To another poster who asked; “why are these kids so important to cart around for a week in police cars?” My response to that is; “Why not those kids?” That is the same as asking someone who donates to cancer research, “What makes cancer so special to receive your donation?”

In closing, to all the volunteers working with operation open heart, keep up the great work that you do and stay safe.

Michael Petruzzi

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question? Why do I see more cop cars out of their city limits, and at the officers houses ie: as far away as Wellington? I don't get to drive my fire truck home, and they sure dont pay me money for the gas I use in coming back into work for a big fire. But the cops get to run it on the cities / counties gas fund and haul around their family members to the stores as they do!


7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for everyone’s support in this organization. I have been a member for the past couple of years and been involved with it about 10 years. Running lights and siren for anyone is a risk, and we try to limit them risk by using side or back roads and also having units enter an intersection first and close it off, before the remainder of caravan enters. Each years outing takes a lot of work to plan and many precautions are set so it can be a successful outing.


7:26 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

In response to Sam that wondered who these kids are that they are so special to be "carted" around like this.... you must be a really miserable person to not be able to stop for a moment and have some compassion for kids that have nobody. These kids are in the hands of the system, not the caring hands of a normal mom or dad that can give them the nurturing that they need to feel important. Thank God for the men and women that take time out of their busy schedules to make these kids feel great for this short period of time every year. Have a heart!

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should ask your city officials. This site is not the place to air your "concerns".

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...




9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Making a difference in a childs life isn't patrolling them around the town. It's taking care of the streets for them to play on. And I realize this is a hard thing to do, you can't be every where. But the family and I have noticed what we believe is alot of drug dealings happening at the apts on Bell Av. and route 57 in Elyria, by the speedway gas staion. Can you guys make us feel safe? And patrol this area alittle more! Because while Middle Av. and points south has you all distracted.....Its right under your noses on the norhtwest side of town.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't like it, MOVE. When they try to raise taxes to hire more officers you bitch but when there are not enough officers due to the city not having the money, YOU BITCH!!! Geeezzz you people are impossible! Anyway, when was the last time some one was shot/killed at 57 and bell? Anyone wanna guess the number of shootings/ Murders in the middle ave area this year??? Hmmmm I rest my case

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Eric L. said...

To Anonymous 9:40AM:

If you need to rant and rave about how police should do their job on a public website, go to (You'll fit in with the rest of the people.) Or better yet.....CALL EPD and let them know of your observations. Seeing as you can't post your name on the comments here, you won't even need to give it to EPD when you call! Your secret is safe!

9:34 AM  

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