Photography by Alice Mary Herden
The Hernando County YMCA held their 17th annual event to honor the lives lost on Sept. 11, many of them first responders.
The community of Hernando County along with members of Hernando County Fire Rescue, Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and service members showed their support on Saturday, Sept. 8 in Spring Hill for the ‘Freedom Run’ and again on Sept. 11 in the ‘Run to Remember.’
Before the Freedom Run on Sept. 8, Amber Slusser Executive Director for Hernando County YMCA remarked, “The Y in Hernando County has been here for almost 30 years. And the event today we have been honored to do for the last seventeen of those almost thirty years.”
The Run to Remember began seventeen years ago by members of the YMCA. “After the 9/11 incident some of our members really felt compelled to honor and remember those that lost their lives, and the first responders that went in that day to help do whatever they could to bring potential lost ones home,” Slusser said. “Over the years the event has grown to encompass more of the community while promoting that health and wellness aspect,” she explained.
The last couple of years, the event has transitioned into a two part event: ‘The Freedom Run’ is held on the Saturday prior to Sept. 11 and the ‘Run to Remember’ is held on Sept. 11.
Slusser said that they added the Freedom Run on Saturday because, “We noticed during the work week, as much as we want to remember this event, we weren’t getting as much community involvement as we really wanted, so we created a two part event.”
There were several speakers who made powerful remarks to the crowd of participants on Sept. 8.
“As a community we are happy to see so many that could join us today, to remember, to honor and to celebrate this wonderful country we live in,” said Sherrie Creamer volunteer chair of the Hernando County YMCA.
“I think 9/11 is to us and our generation much like Pearl Harbor was to our parents and grandparents. And I think that is it critically important that we make sure those young people understand because it does get easier to not take the event as seriously if you did not live through it. For those of you that came here today because you want to honor those people who lost their lives on behalf of the men and women of the Hernando County Sheriff’s office, thank you,” said Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis.
“I think it is right that we are here today and I think it right that we remember why we exist as first responders. We each need to serve others and we do so with courage, integrity and honor and today we remember those that fell before us. We are one nation, undivided and under God...Thank you so much for being here and thank you for supporting our First Responders,” stated Hernando County Fire Chief Scott Heckler.
State Representative Blaise Ingoglia, expressed,
“I want to personally thank the first responders who are here, showing up to remember this event.”
The Annual Run to Remember was held on Sept. 11 at 6am with prayer followed by an informal walk/run to honor those first responders.