OPERATION OPEN HEART
“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.