WOODLAND PARK — A new member of the SHIELD616 cycling team this year, is Levente-Bontond Racz a Woodland Park police officer whose department is getting five rifle rated ballistic kits through the 2021 SHIELD616 border to border ride.
Levente-Bontond, who goes by Boti, is unique in the Woodland Park department, as a national triathlon champion. He says, “I always wanted this lifestyle and to work in law-enforcement. It's the best lifestyle you can have because when you go home and you helped a person who was a need, you can lay your head down and say to yourself, ‘I did something good today.’ Even if I can do one good thing in a week - it's worth it, it's really worth it to do that.”
Boti feels right at home in Woodland Park, which reminds him of where he grew up in Romania.
“I started skiing when I was two or three years old. My parents put me on the skis and kicked me out of the house and said, ‘You go slide’, just to get rid of me and we would ski all day.”
Boti says skiing led to other athletics, like running and bike riding and eventually the Romanian national triathlon team where he always worked to be the best.
“I would wake up in the morning and I would say to myself, ‘Today I'm going to win this competition.’ I would tell kids I was also coaching, ‘You have to want it. You have to imagine yourself winning,’ and you have to chase that if you really desire it. Then I decided one year that I was going to win the national triathlon championship. I really worked for it and in 2008 I was Romanian national champion.”
Boti also served his country which gave him another chance to combine his love for athletics, skiing and military service. “In 2007 I got into the Romanian military and I spent five years in the mountain troops.”
After his service came a move to the professional ranks as a triathlete and a move to the United States. “I moved to Texas because it was a great opportunity. I have a family that I call my American family, they were my sponsors. They are great and they are like my parents so we moved to Texas, and I was able to do more triathlon competitions and I had some good results in Ironman races.”
But then Boti says his lifestyle of a professional athlete came to an end for a good reason. “After my daughter was born I had to put athletics aside, because family comes first in my opinion. I want to give everything to my daughter because when I was growing up if I didn't have something I had to make it. I want my daughter to get the best and not to have to go without. I want her to get all the training, she speaks three languages, and I am really proud on her!”
Boti transitioned to a new lifestyle, away from the blistering heat of Texas through the police academy Colorado Springs and eventually a job in Woodland Park.
“I always had a feeling that the mountains are calling me back. I come from a mountain area in Transylvania where I was always skiing and hiking, climbing and everything connected to mountains. The first time I drove through this small town of Woodland Park, I was like, ‘Dang - I love this place!”
Boti says he feels at home, living the Colorado and law enforcement lifestyle. “I love Colorado because I can do everything I want here. I can go fishing, skiing, hiking, I can shoot my bow - it's the best place to live in my opinion. I can drive 20 minutes and I can fly fish, that's the best thing ever!”
Boti came into law enforcement during a challenging period in our country, but he says it only makes him want to be a better officer and work hard to earn the community's trust. “I like my job because my job is directly affecting the people where I am living. I'm helping the city where I live right now.”
And now, Boti has another chance to help and serve others in a broader and also meaningful way, through the SHIELD616 border to border ride. He recalls, “One morning the previous chief came to me and said, ‘Hey do you want to do a long bike ride?’ And I was like, ‘Yes I would love to. He said, ‘Okay there is a SHIELD616 bike ride border to border and I would like you to do it and you will represent Woodland Park PD. I thought well, I haven't ridden that much lately, and I was scratching my head thinking can I do it, and then I said, ‘Oh yeah - I'm doing it!”
Boti is excited to meet other first responders who will be on the ride, and give back to the profession at large in a meaningful way.
“This is not a small weekend bike ride, it's something big and it has a deep effect and I hope to be on this ride now every year. To support it and even someday if somehow I'm not in law-enforcement, I would still want to be part of this bike ride and help others.”
There is little doubt Boti is up for the challenge.