A thin blue line runs through the past of FBI Special Agent Edward Ignacio. This fourth-generation Hawaiian began his fascination with law enforcement at a young age as he watched his father--the first police officer in his family--patrol events on the big island. “He would stand guard at the traffic light while the Ironman race was happening in Kona. That was also my first exposure to triathlon,” he says.
Decades later, Ignacio is now a well-seasoned veteran of 21 years, having worked as an officer in Hawaii just as his father did, then later as an agent with the FBI. “We’re known as a Police Family. I have uncles and cousins to this day who are officers all over the state in various departments,” he says.
Ignacio is now taking on a new mission. Not one of crime prevention or busting drug traffickers, but of remembrance, respect, and closure.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial stands in Washington, D.C., and honors more than 19,000 officers who have died in the line of duty. This national memorial and 49 individual state memorials provide places for the family and friends of fallen officers to pay their respect. These important centers of emotional relief are necessary for a community to grieve when tragedy strikes. But there is still one state in the union has no such memorial: Hawaii.
Ignacio hopes to change that. He is competing in a number of triathlons while wearing Full Tactical Gear, including a bulletproof vest and other equipment weighting in at nearly 40 pounds. He plans to race at both the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii and the Ironman World Championships in October. Both invents are comprised of a brutal 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a full 26.2-mile marathon. Rudy Project is supporting Ignacio with technically advanced helmets and sunglasses, and by helping him spread the word.
“It’s hard, especially when you think of the children who haven’t seen any kind of memorial for their loved ones yet, because there isn’t anything here. If they want to pay their respect, they have to fly nearly 5,000 miles to Washington, D.C., and most don’t have the money to make that kind of trip. We need something here, in our community so that we can reflect and pay honor,” Ignacio says.
Having been in Law Enforcement for so long, Ignacio knows the pain of losing friends, colleagues and family while in the line of duty all too well. “Two of the officers on the list here in Hawaii were buddies of mine who unfortunately died on my wedding day in 1995," he says. "They were part of a helicopter rescue operation in the mountains when they crashed. That stuck with me, and it was the wife of one of those officers who spearheaded this movement. That’s why it’s been driving me personally. When I go down the list of others that have passed, I now have known eight other officers who’re on that list. I knew them personally, I know their families, and it’s hard.”
The Hawaii Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation has secured land from the state, has finalized a design, and is now raising funds to begin construction.
Rudy Project says it is proud to support Ignacio in his race to raise awareness and funds for Hawaii’s first Law Enforcement Memorial. The company's Aero helmets are the official helmet of the Ironman for North America.