Annapolis 9/11 Heroes Run draws crowds to 5K, mile events
On Sunday, Kat Stolberg climbed into her heavy protective firefighter’s gear — jacket, pants and bright yellow helmet — as she had done countless times before.
This time there was no fire to put out, no emergency to address. Stolberg, 44, of Frederick, was getting ready for the Annapolis 9/11 Heroes Run.
On a balmy afternoon, Stolberg crossed the finish line in full firefighter’s gear, carrying an American flag over her shoulder .
former Frederick County firefighter of 10 years who now volunteers, Stolberg said she took part in Sunday’s race with her family to mark the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and to show support to first responders and members of the military.
“We need to keep [alive] the memory of everybody that died and [show support for those] still fighting for our freedom,” Stolberg said.
Some1,500 people participated in the 9/11 Heroes Run, a 5K race and a 1-mile family fun run that started and ended in the parking lot of Navy-Marine Corps Memori- al Stadium.
The race, in its eighth year in Annapolis, was staged by the Travis Manion Foundation.
Manion, a 2004 graduate of the Naval Academy, was killed by a sniper in Iraq in April 2007 while serving as a Marine.
The foundation, which supports veterans and family members of those killed during service, holds races in about 55 locations throughout the world around the Sept. 11 anniversary.
The foundation aims to bring communities together, and to connect the small percentage of the population that serves in the military and the first responders with the rest of the community, Annapolis race director Dave Papak said.
Papak, a retired Marine Corps brigadier general, urged the crowd of runners and onlookers during the opening ceremony to thank a first responder.
“It’s a very special day to be an American, a very special day in our country, and we never want to forget why we’re here this afternoon,” Papak said.
Duke Roach, a 19-year-old junior at the Naval Academy, said his whole brigade took part in the race. The event is a chance for them to remember a “very significant event Before the start of the annual 911 Heroes Run at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Col. Tom Manion speaks about his son, Travis Manion, a Marine killed in Iraq in 2007, in our lives,” he said.
The Sept. 11 attacks are the reason Roach and a lot of his classmates enrolled in the Naval Academy, he said.
The fact that the race honors a Naval Academy graduate who was killed in combat is another reason so many midshipmen take part in the run, Roach said.
He said Manion represents the best qualities young menand women in America have to offer: he was selfless and gave the ultimate sacrifice.
“I think we can all respect that,” Roach said. “We look up to him a lot.”
Manion’s father, Tom Manion, addressed the crowd before the start of Sunday’s race.
Manion, a retired Marine Corps colonel, called the race in Annapolis and the others around the country a sign of “the resiliency of who we are as Americans.”
One of the last times Manion spoke with his son, he said, Travis gave him a hat with the words “9/11 Never Forget,” on the back, and told Tom Manion to wear it and “know this is what we’re fighting for.”
“For us as a family, we’ve never forgotten,” Tom Manion said. “I know for us as a country, we’ll never forget.”