Fifty-nine people braved the 87-degree heat to run or walk in the 9/11 Heroes Run through Culver Sunday. The event included a 5-kilometer run and a one-mile fun run/walk. American flags decorated the route that started at the Naval Building, wound west along the lake, through the town and back on to the Culver Academies’ campus.
The run honors the first responders, citizens, and volunteers who died on 9/11 and those fallen soldiers who have since died in the Global War on Terror. Proceeds benefit the Travis Manion Foundation. Marine Lt. Manion was killed in Iraq on April 29, 2007, by an enemy sniper while saving his wounded comrades. Every member of his patrol survived because of his actions.
Robert Dill of Burlington, Ind., finished first in the 5K race with a time of 19:54. He knew about Culver Academies because his daughter runs in the Culver Invitational, one of the state’s largest cross country events, which will be this Saturday. Dill said he has admired the Academies during his past trips here and wanted an opportunity to run it.
“I was looking for someplace to run this weekend, and when this popped up, I knew I had to do it.” Dill is a United States Air Force veteran who did two year-long tours in the Middle East in 2006 and 2015. “It’s a hilly course, but a good one,” he said. “It was hotter than I expected. With the breeze coming off the lake, I was hoping it would be cooler. Still, it was a good course.”
There are 9/11 Heroes Runs held across the country during the week of Sept. 11. Culver’s 2017 run was the first in Indiana. This year’s event was organized by CGA seniors Chase Cortes (Chicago) and Jozie Gregg (Vincennes, Indiana). They were assisted by math instructor Sarah Gaff and 18 student volunteers. Fitness Center Director Dana Neer designed a 3.1-mile course that tied together the Academies, the town, and the lake community.
Leadership instructor Don Fox ’75 was the pre-race speaker. Fox, who served as a senior attorney in the federal government and the acting director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, was in the Pentagon with his legal team on Sept. 11, 2001. They were actually watching the events unfold in New York when the plane struck the Pentagon, he said. “The whole building shook,” he added, describing how large the facility is.
But the leadership lessons he learned Culver were the first things that came to his mind.
“Take care of your people” is a basic principle of Culver leadership training, he said. Getting his legal staff to a safe place was his first priority. “Two hundred people died that day, including one of my colleagues.”
Fox said they were so busy getting people safely out of the building, he did learn it was another jet that struck the building until later that day. And then another Culver trait – resilience – came though, he said. He set his alarm and went back to work the next day. That grit he learned at Culver. “You get up and come back again.”
He also reminded those in attendance that one of the fallen soldiers in the Global War on Terror is 1998 CMA graduate, 1st Lt. Andrew K. Stern, who died in Fallujah, Iraq, on Sept. 16, 2004. A cerermony honoring his sacrifice was conducted that morning.
The Travis Manion Foundation is built on the principle of uniting communities “to build an America that values character above all else: where integrity is more important than celebrity and social impact overrides personal gain; where acts of courage, service and kindness permeate the nightly news, and where communities unite together to raise each other up.”