BRIDGEWATER, NJ –Some serious and not-so-serious runners turned in some good and not-so-good times in Sunday’s 5K Travis Manion Foundation 9/11 Heroes Run at the Ethicon campus off Route 22, but it wasn’t as much about crossing the finish line as it was the money that was raised by each runner.
Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher was more than satisfied with his time of 29 minutes-plus, but even more pleased that he had eclipsed his goal of $500 in pledges. He, along with Tom Genova, president of the Downtown Somerville Alliance, joined with over 400 registered runners and one-mile walkers to support the Doylestown, Pa. organization.
Overall, Gallagher placed 95th; Genova beat Gallagher by several minutes and finished 26th. Best time for the 5K was 16 minutes, 55 seconds clocked by Tyler Geimm or Branchburg.
The 9/11 Heroes Run was one of 54 similar events across the country yesterday sponsored by the foundation, created in memory of Manion, an All-American wrestler and graduate of the US Naval Academy. A First Lieutenant, he was killed in April, 2007 by an enemy sniper in Al Anbar Province, Iraq while trying to save several of his wounded Marines. He was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star posthumously.
The Veterans Leadership Council of Johnson&Johnson organized and sponsored the local event in conjunction with the foundation. In addition to the pledges, each runner had to pay an application fee.
Clusters of runners from corporations, running clubs, law firms, families and individuals were included in the entries, as were several dozen US Army troops who ran in the race wearing full backpacks and combat boots.
The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office was also represented with a team of runners; Officer David Daneker and his K-9 companion, Apex, also hosted a display.
There were several other static displays set up in the expansive Ethicon parking lot by Bridgewater and Branchburg police, first responders and other rescue units. A New Jersey State Police helicopter also flew in for the event and performed a flyover as the Veterans Leadership Council held its opening ceremonies.
A letter from Ryan Manion Borek, president of the foundation, was circulated in advance of Sunday’s event:
“Today, we commemorate the 15th Anniversary of September 11th, 2001. We join 30,000 other Americans, in 54 communities across the country and around the world, who are coming together at a Travis Manion Foundation 9/11 Heroes Run to reflect on the lives lost that day.
“We will come together to honor our first responders, military service members, and volunteers who asked themselves “If Not Me, Then Who…” and stepped forward in our nation’s greatest time of need.
“The tragic events of September 11th tore through our families and communities, but it did not break our spirit. It only fortified our national bonds and strengthened our resolve. We recognize strength of character is what defines us as a nation, and it shows the resiliency of the American spirit. Let us ensure strength of character remains strong in our children and all future generations.
“The symbol of the Travis Manion Foundation is the Spartan shield. It represents the strong character and bonds of community upon which our nation is built. It represents the perseverance, toughness, and pride of those who run into the fray, and not away from it. When challenges arise, we meet them. When tragedy strikes, we fortify one another. Each of you embodies the Spartan ethos. Take it with you every day, and inspire it in others.
God bless all those who protect our communities here at home, as well as those around the world, and God Bless America!
"If Not Me, Then Who..."
The foundation is dedicated to assisting US veterans and the families of fallen heroes and endeavors to support the whole military community by empowering veterans and survivors, telling their stories of strength and service while challenging them along with everyday Americans to take action in their communities.