Participants race and remember at sixth annual 9/11 Heroes Run

Despite an inclement weather delay, the sixth annual 9/11 Heroes Run took place Saturday, Sept. 14. Local first responders, veterans and community members were in attendance. Vanguard Photo | Matt Hintz

After a severe weather delay, SVSU hosted its sixth annual 9/11 Heroes Run on Saturday, Sept. 14, at 10 a.m.

Jenna Briggs, the senior director of Advanced Studies and International Student Services, and local race director Ted Lind organized the event. Proceeds went to the Travis Manion Foundation.

“They are a national organization started by the family of Travis Manion, who was killed in 2007 in Iraq,” Briggs said. “The last words he wrote home in an email to his mom the week before he was killed were, ‘If not me, then who?’ So, that’s their motto.”

Briggs said the foundation helps families of fallen service members as well as current veterans.

“The other half is a program called Character Counts, where they train veterans to go into K-12 classrooms and talk to them about the importance of civic duty and volunteerism,” she said. “They stress that everybody can make a difference in the community.”

While the event is normally held on 9/11, severe weather delayed the event until Saturday.

“This is our sixth year doing this,” Briggs said. “For five years, we’ve had amazing weather, so I guess we were due for one bad weather event.”

Because of the delay, Briggs said the event was less formal than in years’ past. The first-place winners for the men’s and women’s races were given an award, but an official timer was not available to record order-of-finish results or results for age groups.

“It was more unofficial and laid back on Saturday, but we still wanted to give people the opportunity to come out and do a 5K if they wanted to.” Aaron Mowen, the director of Campus Recreation, gave opening remarks Saturday. “We were here to honor, to remember and to have fun while knocking out a 5K race,” he said.

The race started in the G3 Gilbertson parking lot. It looped around the main campus entrance walkway and into the trails around Pine Grove.

Lauren Hixson came in first for females at 17:53, and Ian Schoenmeyer came in first for males at 18:54.

Many other community members came out to run. Molly Schaffer, a student at Delta College, participated in the event before in 2015. She was glad to return this year.

“I wanted to support first responders and military,” she said. “It’s a great race. I wanted to come back because I think it’s a great cause.”

She also has family who have served and are currently serving.

“Both of my grandfathers served, and my cousin recently was in the Navy,” she said.

Although the event was postponed, Mowen said he was happy with the event turnout.

“Regardless of the 5K, people show up because of the cause,” Mowen said. “It’s to honor and remember first responders and military veterans from 9/11 until present.”

Mowen is also a Marine Corps veteran, which is how he got involved in the event.

“It really started off with employees on campus who were vets wanting to find an event on campus that would be in remembrance of vets,” he said. “This has been a positive turnout and great for the community.”

Mowen said the event helps connect community members to the campus through a shared cause.

“Like I said, there weren’t any thrills (since we only awarded first place for the male and female categories), but we were all here to remember and to serve,” he said.

Kaitlyn Farley

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