Run to honor veterans

Mary Anne Andrews

Most Americans can tell you exactly where they were on Sept. 11, 2001. The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon rocked the nation and brought many together in support of the military and efforts against terrorism.

In honor of the 11th anniversary of the attacks, the WKU Student Veterans Alliance will host the first Kentucky 9/11 Heroes Run at Kereiakes Park on Sept. 8. Registration and activities will begin at 3 p.m. for those who do not register online. The 5K will begin at 5:30 p.m., preceded by a ceremony to honor local service personnel and a moment of silence to remember the fallen.

Madisonville senior Susan Slaton, 28, is a U.S. Army Reserve veteran and director for the local race. Her goal is to have 200 runners.

Slaton said her involvement in the race is very personal because of her service in Iraq.

“9/11 was a catalyst that changed my life, and I want to honor those people,” she said.

Last year, Slaton visited the 9/11 memorial in Chandler Chapel. She said it felt like a call to action.

“I knew I needed to be a part of something locally to help Bowling Green remember 9/11,” she said.

According to the press release, half of the proceeds from the event will go to the Travis Manion Foundation and half to the Pennyroyal Veterans Center in Hopkinsville.

The Travis Manion Foundation is dedicated to “honoring the fallen by challenging the living,” the release said.

The foundation was created in honor of Travis Manion, a Marine killed in Iraq. Manion’s family, through the foundation, began the Heroes Run five years ago.

With 47 race locations nationwide, this is the only Heroes Run in the Kentucky–Tennessee area.

The Pennyroyal Veterans Center opened in February and provides support for homeless veterans.

“We want to identify homeless veterans and provide them treatment — whether that is substance abuse, mental health or job skills — all with the final goal of discharging them to their own living environment that they can pay for,” Center Coordinator Howard Dixon told The Kentucky New Era.

William Stolz, a freshman from New Jersey, respects that goal firsthand. Stolz is a U.S. Navy veteran who is volunteering at the run to remember 9/11, like his hometown did in recent years.

“They would always try to do something to honor all of the fallen during that tragic day,” he said. “I have seen a few of these types of events, and they always unite people of different cultures together for one day as a country, not as individuals.”

Slaton is still looking for volunteers, runners and donations.