Travis Manion 9 11MADISONVILLE, Ky. (09/11/17) — The Hopkins County Justice Center in downtown Madisonville was lit in patriotic colors as more than 1,000 people and first responders from around the region took part in Madisonville’s Travis Manion Foundation 9/11 Heroes 5K Run/1 mile Fun Run Saturday.

Madisonville Police Chief Wade Williams could be seen running in full uniform carrying a Texas flag to honor the state, where the Travis Manion event was canceled due to the recent hurricane. Several first responders from around western Kentucky including participants from Evansville, Indiana, also ran wearing full work gear.

Emcee Bill Rudd welcomed runners, volunteers and those gathered to show support Saturday night. A large portion of funds raised will aid local first-responder efforts in the community as well as veterans’ needs.

“I know you are here to run, but you are also here to show your support for our local first responders,” Rudd said, adding Saturday night’s race was the largest in five years.

Hopkins County Schools participated in fundraising efforts for the project, raising more than $4,800. James Madison Middle School raised $1,800 and was awarded the traveling trophy for the fifth annual event. HCCHS placed second in raising $1,200 followed by Earlington Elementary with $300.

Air Force B-1 bomber engine mechanic Jerod Sutherland prayed for military and warriors around the globe, mentioning men and women lost during the 9/11 attack 16 years ago, and those since.

First-responder Courtney Nalin performed the National Anthem, while colors were presented by the Madisonville Police Department Honor Guard.

Special guests included Director of Supporting Heroes Eric Johnson along with Travis Manion Foundation Program Coordinator Matt Peace.

“When I think of a real hero, I think of someone who gives selflessly to others at great personal risk or expense,” Johnson said. “I think of men like Travis Manion and Patrick Rudd.”

He also mentioned Manion and Rudd were heroes before they gave their lives in service, adding it was not how they died that made them heroes, but how they lived.

Peace, who visited 12 Hopkins County Schools last week, said the U.S. is full of character.

“I have hope for this country, when I looked into the eyes of these students I met this week,” Peace said. “I challenged them to step it up and be leaders. My underlying message to the students at the schools was to believe in themselves … we, together, can make this the best town on earth and … make this the best country on earth.”

Rudd of Madisonville, father of Army Sgt. Patrick Rudd, Third Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, was killed by enemy fire during combat patrol Oct. 5, 2008 in Mosul, Iraq. Rudd explained Saturday’s event was an effort to join 50,000 others to honor those who serve and continue to serve selflessly.

9/11 Heroes Run 2017

"Today, we gather to remember the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001,” he said. “We reflect on the innocent and heroic lives lost that day and we honor the sacrifices of those who have protected our communities and country every day since. So many courageous men and women have worn the uniform of this nation. Today is our opportunity to band together just like we're doing here tonight to show our gratitude and support for first responders and service members.”

The 9/11 Heroes Run is a branch of the Travis Manion Foundation, a nonprofit organization that directly supports veterans, their families, and families of fallen service members by providing emergency assistance, scholarships, and other direct financial support, when a family or veteran is in need.

A portion of the proceeds from the local 9/11 Heroes Run will benefit the Travis Manion Foundation, while much will be utilized locally to support the Patrick Rudd Project to support Everyday Heroes mini grants, organizers said.

Madisonville continues to be one of the top 10 largest 9/11 Heroes Run events in the nation.

Tammy Holloway
SurfKY News
Tammy Holloway/SurfKY News photos

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