The Canal Winchester Times

Military, first-responders honored during 9/11 Heroes Run

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As the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks approaches, a 5K walk and run in Westerville is meant to help remember the lives lost that day while honoring the heroes who serve in the military and as first-responders.

The second Travis A. Manion 9/11 Heroes Run will begin at 9 a.m. Sept. 7 at Alum Creek Park North, 221 W. Main St.

The Westerville race will be one of 41 races organized by the Travis Manion Foundation that day.

The foundation honors a 26-year-old Pennsylvania Marine who was killed by a sniper on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2007.

"The Travis Manion Foundation and the Heroes Run is dedicated to 9/11 and those who died that day and the soldiers and firefighters who have lost their lives since," said Tom Ullom, local race coordinator.

Ullom and Johnstown resident Steve Robbins, a 22-year Marine Corps veteran, brought the race to Westerville last year.

Ullom said the race is just one way of keeping the tragedy of Sept. 11 on people's minds, and of setting an example for youth that the day should be remembered.

"It's been 12 years now," Ullom said.

"So often, events happen, and they get forgotten about," he said.

"It's important to remember the lives that were lost that day, and the soldiers who have died since."

The race also raises money for two causes: the Travis Manion Foundation and the Westerville Fire Fighters Memorial Fund.

The Travis Manion Foundation provides "Challenge Grants" to survivors of fallen heroes, active members of the military, veterans and military family members to further their education, complete service projects, meet physical challenges and more, and it offers the "Character Does Matter" leadership program for young people.

The Westerville Fire Fighters Memorial Fund provides scholarships to Westerville students planning careers as firefighters or medics.

Last year, the race attracted about 140 participants, and organizers hope to reach 200 runners and walkers this year, Ullom said.

"Walkers or runners or whoever wants to participate -- we're still looking for sponsors," Ullom said.

"If anyone wants to donate, they can donate. There isn't any amount that's too small."

The race will be preceded at 8:30 a.m. by a ceremony remembering the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and fallen heroes.

Ohio National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Steve Shepherd will be the keynote speaker.

Ullom and Robbins both will offer comments, and a bagpiper will perform.

An outdoor version of the Lima Company Memorial: The Eyes of Freedom, which depicts the 23 members of the Ohio company killed in combat in Iraq, will be on display.

For the race itself, participants will again run under an American flag hanging from a Westerville Division of Fire ladder truck and along a flag-lined path.

As they did last year, a group of Lima Company Marines will run the race in formation.

Race participants and sponsors can register, or donations can be made, via the race website, 911heroesrun.com/runs/locations/Ohio/Columbus.

Those interested in sponsoring or making donations also can contact Ullom at 614-736-4323.

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