9/11 Heroes Run sees highest turnout ever

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SVSU hosted the Travis Manion Foundation’s fourth annual 9/11 Heroes Run on Monday, Sept. 11.

Although the event took place on a Monday night, people from all across the Saginaw Valley area were in attendance, leading to the highest turnout that the 5K run has ever seen. Those present included firemen, law enforcement, current and active duty military members and families of the fallen. Military Student Affairs was responsible for organizing the event with the Travis Manion Foundation. The unique event honors all of those who served in some capacity during and after the 9/11 attacks.

The opening ceremony was especially touching. The scene opened with bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace” and the SVSU band playing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

“The opening ceremony in remembrance of those who have fallen was the most memorable,” said former Navy service member John Smith.

State Rep. Jason Wentworth and a Gold Star mother delivered speeches to the crowd. Both speakers placed a strong emphasis on how the country unifies in the greatest times of need, especially after the 9/11 attacks.

“I thought the opening ceremony had a good mix of being reflective on the bad events that happened but also had a positive aspect to celebrate the good things that have happened as a result,” said Associate Director of Admissions Ted Lind.

Fire trucks and other emergency service vehicles lined the G3 parking lot. Emergency vehicles were present, and tents and a stage were placed at the corner of the lot. A giant flag hung from a fire truck ladder was located near the finish line, where volunteers encouraged runners and recorded times.

Once the race started, the runners were off. Families were encouraged to bring everyone along. Even if they weren’t physically capable of running, walking was acceptable. Some mothers were spotted pushing babies in strollers, a sign that the entire community was out to support the race’s cause. The top male finisher was 12-year-old Joel Laursen, who finished in 20:07. The top female finisher was 61-year-old Robin Shaffer, who finished in 24:46. It was the first year that the overall winner was male.

Kochville Township Fire Chief Alan Malesky, walked in his full fire gear in order to bring awareness to first responders. Malesky pointed out that, although firefighters do not get a large amount of attention, they would not want it any other way.

“We don’t do it for recognition, we do it because we love it,” Malesky said. “A pat on the back is great, but that’s all that is needed.”

The event sought to bring awareness to those who have served and also raise money. In the end, both goals were achieved. Over $4,000 was raised and much of the community was in attendance. The $4,000 will be used to cover costs, and the remainder of the proceeds will be donated to Aaron’s Gifts From Home in Midland and the Travis Manion Foundation.

Directors in charge of the event are also planning to host the 9/11 Heroes Run again in 2018.