By Megan Hussey
In honor of the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the Hernando County YMCA will host The 20th Annual Run to Remember at 8 a.m. on Saturday, September 11th. This will take place at Anderson Snow Park, 1360 Anderson Snow Rd, Spring Hill. Participants have the option of engaging in a 5K run or 1 Mile Walk on this day of remembrance.
“The Hernando Y has organized the run every year since 2001 with the exception of a weather-related cancellation and last year due to Covid-19 precautions,” explained Kelli Biandudi, Communications Manager, Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA.
“The run is open to the community and is a partnership with Hernando County Parks and Rec this year,” said Amber Slusser, M.A. Branch Executive Director, YMCA of the Suncoast, Hernando County.
The program will start at 7:30 a.m., as the YMCA advisory council chair welcomes participants. The event will feature a presentation of colors by a Hernando-based ROTC Color Guard group, the singing of the National Anthem, and a number of speeches and presentations. “Local dignitaries and elected officials will say a few words about the significance of the 9/11/01 attacks, the day and remembrance of,” said Slusser. “Typically it is the sheriff, the fire chief and a local elected official that says a few words. We are trying to find someone that was there or significantly impacted by the day to say a few words as well.”
This event finds its origins in 2002, when a group of Y members conceptualized the concept of staging a run in remembrance of the 9/11/01 attacks and to honor the lives lost on that day.
“Those members stepped up to volunteer alongside the Y staff to implement the Inaugural Run to Remember. Since then, the Y has planned and implemented a version of this event every year to bring the community together to remember how the events impacted the nation, to honor the lives lost and to celebrate those first responders that selflessly heeded the call to do all that they could,” said Slusser.
Commemoration and education form the dual mission of the Run to Remember. “We have a new generation that, outside of possibly learning about it in a history class, will not know the depth of the impact of this tragic event. “It is a way that we can not only educate them, but it is also an opportunity to strengthen our community, celebrate our unity and honor our local community heroes with law enforcement and the fire department,” said Slusser.
After the run/walk, YMCA will provide a continental breakfast for participants as well as live music. “There will be a remembrance tree this year where participants can fill in a ribbon and tie it to the tree. We will also have a station where notes of appreciation can be written for our local first responders,” said Slusser. Participants can purchase a commemorative dri-fit shirt for $15 in advance of the run at the Y, or the day of the event, while supplies last.
Each year, the event is sponsored by local community businesses. This year’s sponsors are:
Oak Hill Hospital
4 Corners Pharmacy
Day Law Office
McCrae and McCrae Realty, Inc.
JF Construction Ent.
Accent Carpet and Tile
T-shirts will be available for purchase for $15 and can be ordered at the Y. Register online at https://qrgo.page.link/SuH7U or at the Hernando County branch of the YMCA, 1300 Mariner Blvd, Spring Hill.