9/11 Heroes Run 5k race honors victims, military, first responders

9/11 Heroes Run 5K honors military

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The ‘9/11 Heroes run’ kicked off its 12th annual competition Sunday, with over 700 people lacing up to take part.

“The further we get from 9/11, the more that memory becomes less clear, less visceral. But what this does is help all of us as Americans realize that we have so many people deployed – away from their families – defending our country and our ideals," said Col. Corky Gardner.

Col. Gardner was a personal friend of Travis Manion, the namesake of the Travis Manion Foundation – which is the benefactor of the race.

“He meant so much to the Marines that he served with, and he obviously meant a lot to his family. They were determined that his sacrifice would be honored by service to other veterans," Col. Gardner said.

And that sacrifice was honored virtually everywhere you looked with runners decked out in t-shirts displaying the American flag, along with a 28-foot-wide American flag made entirely of dog tags of fallen service members.

“To get this before 9/11 is great, because it creates the mindset that ‘Hey, this is coming up. Let not forget those who put their lives on the line, those who sacrificed for our freedom,’” said Brett Jones.

Others, who may not have been at ground zero, went the extra mile to pay their respects by donning full uniform.

“I can do my part by wearing everything that they wore on that faithful day,” said Lee Bergstreser, dressed in a full firefighter’s outfit, “that’s the way I can show my support.”

Stephen Ross, a father of another fallen veteran shared some words about the significance of the ceremony in honoring people like his late son: “We all take the time to say thank you. Thank you to all those men and women that went to help others in the towers, at the pentagon, and in the fields of Pennsylvania.”

Organizers say the Richmond race has seen significant growth. In 2016, only 209 runners competed in the race. In 2019, 700+ runners were slated to take part.

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