Honor The Fallen by Challenging the Living: 9/11 Heroes Run
When Whitney Hollingsworth came to the museum to talk about a 5K fundraising run and told me the theme of the run, “If Not Me...Then Who?,” it was like stepping back in time. I was a TSgt and single parent in the Air Force and I had just found out that I was going to be deployed to Saudi Arabia. When I got the orders, my first thoughts were “Why me?” My immediate thoughts after were, “Well why not me?” and, “If not me, then who?” Who would I wish this deployment on? I could not think of one person who I would ask to take my place, even though it meant being away from my son and family for the holidays. After more than six months in the desert, I was one of the lucky ones… I got to come home to my son and future Thanksgivings and Christmases. There are so many that do not.
Whitney started running in high school to lose weight. She ran occasionally through the years but didn’t start running competitively until 2003. When she turned 40, she decided to run a marathon and her first one was The Rocket City Marathon in 2004. When she crossed the finish line, her words to herself were “Been there, done that, why would I want to do another one?” But it got into her blood, and she has since run 7 marathons, including Boston in 2011, New York in 2013 and Marine Corp in 2014.
The Marine Corp Expo is where she came across The Travis Manion Foundation. She had read about Travis and Brendon Looney in Runner’s World a few years back. They were Naval Academy roommates and became best friends. Travis was killed in Fallujah in 2007, and Brendon was killed in a helicopter crash in 2010. Although Travis was buried near his home so his mother could go visit his grave, Brendon’s wife Amy said they have to be together. Travis body was moved to Arlington National Cemetery, and they are now buried next to each other in Section 60. She went and visited their graves the day after the marathon, and started following the Foundation’s link when she got home.
In January, the Travis Manion Foundation starting asking for volunteers to bring a 9/11 Heroes Run to their local community. She was not sure that she wanted to direct a race since she had just stepped down from 10 years of helping direct the Lions Club Rails to Trails 10K. However, she could not pass up what the Foundation was offering. In directing a 9/11 Heroes Run, you could choose a community benefactor. “Helen Carter and I go to church together. She is on The Board of The Veterans’ Museum and I remembered she had mentioned to me that someone else on the board had said they would like to have a Veterans’ Day 5K. I went to her and asked if The Veterans’ Museum would be interested in becoming a Community Benefactor for this Foundation,” and that is how it began!
This race is to honor all the fallen of 9/11 and the wars since. Veterans, First Responders, Citizens and Military, come out and help us honor the fallen while challenging the living.
Our race will be held on Saturday, September 12, 2015 at 7:00am. Race will begin and end at the Alabama Veterans’ Museum, 100 W. Pryor, Athens, AL
Follow the link on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/911-Heroes-Run-Athens-Alabama/1425206924453271?fref=ts or visit the website at http://www.travismanion.org/get-involved/911-heroes-run/
Sign up before the price increase on 31 July 2015. We are still looking for sponsors, volunteers and people to come out and support the race! Contact the museum for more information at 256-771-7578.
By: Sandra Thompson, Director, Alabama Veterans' Museum