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Virtually Honoring a Life Lost: Registration for Annual Biendl Memorial Run Closes Jan. 4

December 30, 2020

By Rachel Friederich

DOC Communications

Printed funeral program with image of Jayme Biendl

A copy of Jayme Biendl’s funeral order of service sits inside a display case at the Department of Corrections’ Headquarters building in Tumwater. (Rachel Friederich, DOC Communications)

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MONROE – Each year, the Washington State Department of Corrections, partnering law enforcement agencies and the greater Monroe community come together to celebrate the life of fallen Correctional Officer Jayme Biendl.

The event, held the fourth Sunday in January, typically draws more than 400 people. They run, jog or walk a 3.1-mile route that goes past Skykomish River Park and the Monroe Correctional Complex’s Washington State Reformatory Unit.

Like many community events and celebrations, the Jayme Biendl Memorial Walk/Run made modifications because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The unique twist to this year’s event is that it will be held “virtually.”

Rather than a group run, event organizers are encouraging people to choose a route in their communities and walk or run it, individually, over the weekend of January 23-24. The Behind the Badge Foundation, the organization that coordinates the event each year, will also have route suggestions for participants in the Monroe area on its Facebook page. Participants are invited to take selfies of themselves in their t-shirts and bibs and post them to the official Jayme Biendl Memorial Virtual 5K Walk/Run Facebook page with #jaymebiendlmemorialrun.

“The event is very special to the Monroe community,” said Tracy Michel, who heads community engagement for the Behind the Badge Foundation. “The (event) committee had to do a lot of work to honor the traditions that have been established, while shifting every part of the event… It required a lot of creative thinking and the committee rose to the challenge.”

Registration for the event closes Jan. 4. The $30 registration fee includes a race day t-shirt, race bib and swag bag. Items can be shipped to participants for a fee, so make sure to register as soon as possible to ensure delivery by the event weekend. There will also be drive-through locations for Monroe residents to pick up their items prior to the event weekend.

Proceeds from the event go to the Behind the Badge Foundation, as requested by Biendl’s family. The foundation offers support to family members and to agencies of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.

In 2011, an inmate strangled and killed Biendl in the chapel of the Washington State Reformatory at the Monroe Correctional Complex. January 29 marks the 10th anniversary of the death.

“Jayme is remembered fondly both by department staff who knew and worked with her and those who have started with the department since her death,” said Susan Biller, Communications Director for the department. “All new Corrections employees learn about her line of duty death during Correctional Worker Core training. It is important that we never forget her and continue to honor her memory.”

Though ten years have passed, Biendl is remembered in the hearts and minds of everyone who knew her, and though community members who walk/run each year in her honor. Though the COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges, Michel said it was important that the event go on.

“Given the scope of 2020, it would have been easy for the committee and surrounding community to delay this event until 2022,” Michel said. “Instead, dedicated time, energy, and resources were freely given to ensure Officer Biendl was remembered and that this long-standing tradition continued in this community. The committee has been supported by local businesses, the Monroe Police Department, the Department of Corrections, City of Monroe, Behind the Badge Foundation and an incredible team of volunteers to ensure this event continues to honor Officer Jayme Biendl and her family.”

A registration link for the event is available on EventBrite. More information about the memorial run is available on Facebook and on the Behind the Badge Foundation’s events page.