9/11 Run honors soldiers and first responders

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The Travis Manion Foundation is hosting the fourth annual 9/11 Heroes Run at SVSU this evening, Monday, Sept. 11, at 6:30 p.m. on the SVSU cross-country fitness trail.

Family of fallen 1st Lt. Travis Manion started the foundation in 2007. The event is a 5K run/walk with the goal of honoring the fallen and raising money for those who have served in some capacity as a result of the 9/11 attacks.

The attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 have served as a beacon of unity in recent years at SVSU and across the country.

The Heroes Run will be taking place not just at SVSU, but across the country as well, including at 58 other locations. Those being honored include first responders, veterans, active duty service members and families of the fallen.

Associate Director of Admissions Ted Lind and Director of Graduate and International Admissions Jenna Briggs spearheaded the event together. The idea originated before there was a director of Military Student Affairs at SVSU, and the goal was to bring awareness to both first responders and those who serve in the military. In particular, first responders will be honored during the race due to the lack of public recognition they receive.

“If you’re at the grocery store in uniform, somebody will always walk up to you and thank you for your service,” Briggs said. “I don’t think that’s necessarily the same for our law enforcement and firefighters.”

The Kochville Township Fire Department will be bringing a giant American flag with a ladder that will be placed at the starting point of the event. The flag is meant to not only be a symbol of patriotism, but it will also serve in remembrance of the 9/11 attacks. In the days following the attack on the twin towers, a fire truck with a ladder hanging the flag was placed at ground zero. The flag at the 9/11 Heroes Run will serve as recognition for all of those that have died as a result of the attacks, their families and those who still serve today.

“It is a powerful image for the people to have at the starting line that is a symbol of the attacks,” Lind said.

Bethany Alford, director of Military Student Affairs, is eager to bring in the local first responders and honor the local servicemen and women for their sacrifice. Another important aspect of the run is fundraising in order to provide services to troops and fund the Travis Manion Foundation.

“We in (Military) Student Affairs are especially excited to be partnering with Aaron’s Gifts From Home, a local non-profit that sends care packages to troops overseas,” Alford said.

A benefit of the affiliation with the Travis Manion Foundation is that not only do the race proceeds go toward the foundation, but they are also donated to a local non-profit. Aaron’s Gifts From Home is based out of Midland, and their goal is to boost morale by providing care packages for troops overseas. Care packages include food, snacks, personal hygiene items, and entertainment items.

Not only will first responders and service members be attending the event, but Jason Wentworth, a state representative, will also be speaking.