More than 100 people ran or walked in the 9/11 Heroes Run through Culver Saturday. The event included a 5-kilometer run and a one-mile fun run/walk. American flags decorated the route that went along the lake, through downtown 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.
The foundation sponsors 9/11 Heroes Runs around the country during the week of Sept. 11. The Culver event, the first in Indiana, was started by Adam Davis ’18 (Granger, Indiana). Davis has a lot in common with Manion. Davis is a wrestler and is planning to attend the Naval Academy. His brother Zach is a first classman at Annapolis and on the wrestling team. Manion was a member of the Navy wrestling team.
He was assisted by math instructor Caren Standfast, who is a Naval Academy graduate, and is from Manion’s hometown in Pennsylvania. Adams and Standfast worked with Fitness Center Director Dana Neer to design a 3.1-mile course that tied together the Academies, the town, and the lake community. The downtown section included a large flag hanging from a fire truck that runners ran under.
Participants came from throughout the region, including members of the South Bend Fire Department. Members of the Indiana National Guard based in Warsaw brought two Humvees over for participants to inspect. Retired Air Force Gen. Robert Tanguy greeted runners. And Culver Educational Foundation Chairman Emeritus Jim Henderson ’52, a former Navy officer, gave a brief talk prior to the run, reminding everyone that Marine Lt. Andrew K. Stern ’98 was killed in Fallujah, Iraq, on Sept. 16, 2004 – the same day as the Heroes Run.
John Duffy ’17, now a freshman at the University of Notre Dame and a member of the college’s Naval ROTC program, came down to run. “I couldn’t miss this,” he said. It was Duffy and Riley Callahan ’17 who brought Hugo Lentze from TMF to meet with students last year. Lentze talked about the run and its purpose, which gave Adams the idea. Adams knew of Manion and the foundation, but did not know the Heroes Run was part of organization’s mission.
A special, late addition was the “Fill the Boot” campaign that collected donations for the victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Adams, who finished second in the run in 20 minutes, 14 seconds, carried a Texas flag that the foundation will use at the Houston run, which was postponed due to flooding.
The 5K was won by 14-year-old Joseph Cholger of Rochester, Indiana, in 19:44. He learned about the face from a friend. Cholger is no stranger to distance running. He said he has been competing in sprint triathlons since he was 10 years old. His grandfather drove him to the race.
Twenty-five Culver students got to run for free after an anonymous donor paid their registration fee. The slots were filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.
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.”