People come together for 9/11 first responders in Scottdale
Organizers of the first Fallen Heroes 5K run/walk in memory of those first responders who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks 12 years ago said they were very pleased with the participation.
“I think we had an awesome turnout,” organizer Stephanie Rulli said of the event held in Scottdale. “There were some minor hiccups, so we need to change one or two things for next year, but it was great.”
She added that the mix of participants were those diehard runners who try to participate in every race they can, as well as those individuals who wanted to support the fallen heroes.
“Sept. 11 touches people's hearts and we had a number of runners who came out to show their support,” Rulli said.
Six firefighters with the Scottdale Volunteer Fire Department actually ran the entire 5K in full gear.
“We wanted to show support for our fallen brothers,” said fireman Jason Suitor, who came up with the idea. “It was as hard as what I thought it would be. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but we finished.”
Mary Kreis of Belle Vernon brought her 8-year-old daughter, Viva, to participate as part of the patriotic organization, Team Red White and Blue.
“We just learned about this race 24 hours ago, and we wanted to participate,” she said, adding that she spent six hours on the Yough River Trail beginning at 9:11 a.m. to show support for those who died on Sept. 11.
“We have spent the entire day recognizing Sept. 11 and those whose lives were changed forever,” Kreis said. “We were thrilled to do this. This was a good way to end the day.”
She said it is always great to see people come together through the tragedy.
“They (the terrorists) tried to break us down — break us apart — but it's because of Sept. 11 that we have come together,” Kreis said.
Michael Garlowich, a senior at Southmoreland High School, was the first to cross the finish line.
He said he wasn't originally planning to run the race because his high school cross country team had a scheduled meet. The meet was canceled because of the weather and Garlowich decided to take part in the 5K.
“It's nice they got this run started to honor Sept. 11,” he said. “I was glad I was able to participate in it.”
Rachel Basinger is a contributing writer.