Jen Casey welcomed 183 participants to the first annual 9/11 Remembrance 5K Run/Walk, held at F& M Park, Traverse City. The 9/11 run is to honor those who lost their lives in the September 11th, 2001 terror attacks, as well as area First Responders and Veterans. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Grand Traverse Area First Responder Coalition. This brand new non-profit fund was set up to help local first responders (police, fire, EMS, Emergency Management, 911 Dispatchers) which will allow for education opportunities, scholarships, recognition, emergency financial support, etc. The second portion of proceeds will go to the September 11th Families’ Association Fund in New York, NY, http://911families.org/ . The race was held along beautiful and historic Traverse City neighborhood and downtown streets. Sponsored by Michigan Blood, The Traverse City Rotary Club, TV 7&4, 29&8 & UpNorthLive, Northern Broadcasting/Blarney Stone Broadcasting, Munson Medical Center, Alfie Logo wear, Oryana Natural Foods, Pure Water Works and the Traverse City Firefighters Local 646. Results can be found at 9/11 Remembrance 5K Results .
Why did race director, Jen Casey make the huge effort to conduct this race? Jen says; “I was living and working in NY when 9/11 happened and it had a HUGE impact on my life. Just being there that day and trying to figure out what was really happening, the terror and uncertainty we all felt and the sadness of knowing a lot of people didn’t have a choice but to jump from those towers that day really hit me hard. I was also a spinning instructor at night with a Chief of the Fire Department on the Lower East Side. His unit was one of the first responders into the towers and his men never made it out. There are so many stories from that day that will never be forgotten and I wanted to find a way to honor those that lost their lives and those that risk their lives every day for our safety. So around 2008 I started running in half marathons the weekend of 9/11 in Chicago. It was my way of healing and honoring that day. My motto was “I run for those who can’t” and it got me through every race. When I moved home to Traverse City I noticed there wasn’t really anything here to honor the day so I decided to start something and here we are!”. Jen is a Local Broadcast & Digital Sales Manager at TV 7&4/ABC 29&8/UpNorthLive.com .
The Traverse City Fire Department, were the focus of the moving, opening ceremonies held with a Fire Department color guard with a huge American flag hung from the hook and ladder truck extended arm. The powerful and beautiful singing of the national anthem by Ramona Pleva kicked off the race. Then it was “Katie Bar the Door” as runners and walkers competed full bore in the 5K race.
My “winners” were not the fastest runners. They are the members of the Traverse City Fire Department. These are the first responders and paramedics who may save your life in an emergency. Chad Chinlund, 36, was a “winner”. Chad has been a Traverse City firefighter for 3 years. Chad runs for health, fitness, and to equip himself to be able to perform his job to the best of his ability. He raced today to keep the memories alive of those who gave their life 9/11, 16 years ago. TJ Taylor, 31, was a “winner”. TJ has been with the TCFD 10 years. He ran to honor those involved with 9/11. He runs because of the high physical demands of his job saving lives. Thomas Thompson, 31 was a “winner”. Thomas ran today for better health and fitness. The police were here. Not only did they monitor traffic, but they were in the race. Taylor Comiskey, is 27. She is with the Traverse City Police Department. Thank you all first responders, for your valuable service to our community.
Jenice Levenson, 47, is a 3 year member of the Interlochen, Inland Township Firefighters and EMT. Jenice says; “This race means a lot to me for what it represents. The first responders are risking lives to save others.” Jenice adds; “Always respect first responders and what they do and respect the flag and what the flag represents.”
The Veterans center was represented. Art Eisner, 48, a 23 year veteran, stood before his colorful truck, and explained the function of the Traverse City Vet Center. “We provide Post Traumatic Stress Counseling to area vets. PTSD is too common among vets. With our help, a vet can overcome or learn to control the serious, debilitating symptoms. We also provide veterans with Military Sexual Trauma counseling and other needed help. William Bourgeois, served three years in the Army. William, is with the Pontiac Vet Center, and came to help the local folks during the race. Theresa Stack came as a therapist with the TC Vets Center.
The Madion Family joined the event because their daughter is a student at the Naval Academy. Tim Madion, Dad, 48, Charity Madion, Mom, 47, Carl,14, Nora, 11 and John Madion ran as a family unit in support of their daughter and to impact a sedentary life style. The Madion’s motto? “Fitness in solidarity”. Lori Green, 58, from Ludington, is a director of nursing. She left her warm bed at 5:30AM to make this race. As a director of nursing, Lori ought to know what is right for good health. Larry Flynn, 56, of TC runs for fun. His buddy, Gary Greenman, 50, also of TC runs for better health.
Where would we be without volunteer course marshals to guide us around the race course? Zoe Sanford, 14 and Sophie Thompson were two of many members of the Traverse City West Cross Country and Track Team. Diane Goss is their coach and guided the team through their important race functions. Dave Sanford, 42, is Zoe’s dad and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. Dave runs for his health and his own therapy. Thank you for your service, Dave.
Our last winner follows! And she is special. Amber Dutmer, 30, of TC ran/walked the 5K course with the aid of a walker. Amber has scoliosis and suffers from asthma. Amber runs because it strengthens her legs. Amber, you are our heroine of the race.
Jen Casey would like to see you at next year’s 9/11 Remembrance 5K Run/Walk to support our area first responders. Enjoy this different view of Traverse City and honor the people who risk their lives to save yours. Always ask your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
Mickey Fivenson, 75, is a stroke survivor. Mickey’s doctor credits running to his survival. He is a 100 pound loser. A former director of the National Cherry Festival Races, Mickey founded the Cherry Festival Golden Mile and Wheelchair Races. He wishes to thank all first responders who raced. If you’d like tips on running, on marathons, if you have a story to share how running has impacted your life, or if you would like coverage of your race, following is a link to contact Mickey