September 11th. Every time this date comes around we experience this wave of emotion about our country and the tragedy that transformed us. Many of us also have another intense desire on the date: to give thanks for the first responders that gave their lives on that day and those that continue to protect and serve us under all circumstances.
I was producing a 10 p.m. newscast during that month in 2001. The outpouring of love for firefighters and police officers is something I will always remember. Local firehouses received visits from people who did not know the men and women inside, but wanted to express their thanks through cookies, hugs, and taking pictures in front of their massive trucks. Police officers were given free meals when they walked into local establishments, a thank-you for the jobs they did day in and day out. We followed those stories, turning them into TV moments that made everyone feel a bit better about the world around them, in days that were so dark for this country.
There’s a way we can honor those men and women this weekend, throwing our support behind them and what they do so many years later. Especially the ones who face their own personal hardships right now.
The Torres Trail 5k is on Sunday. It’s the fourth year for the event, which originally started to help a firefighter who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident when another vehicle hit him.
Kenny King wanted the event to help his co-worker Anthony Torres when Torres lost his leg. The proceeds assisted him and his family as they faced mounting medical bills and the unknown. Torres ended up fully recovered and is the first amputee full-duty firefighter in Ohio. But the two decided they must continue the benefit to help support local firefighters and their families who were going through difficult times. This year’s choice, Beth DeConnick, is a woman who is in the midst of a major battle right now. She is a Mifflin Township firefighter, she’s a mom, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer in May.
“She started crying,” King told me by phone, “She found a very big lump, so large that it hurt to wear a seatbelt.”
Doctors at OSU removed her breast that next week and DeConnick cut off her hair in July. Every three weeks she has chemo. But King told me through all of this, she’s still continuing to work at the firehouse four to five hours each week.
In the past several years, the race has given more than $50,000 to firefighter families. There are 175 people pre-registered for this year’s run, an all-time high. They would love to see that number grow on race day and an even greater crowd rally around DeConnick.
You can register at Creekside Gahanna on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. The race starts there at 1 p.m. There is a parking garage right near the site. And for all of you worried about missing your NFL football, don’t give it another thought! One of the nearby bars, Signatures Bar, will make sure all of you have a place to come in and watch. There’s plenty of other information about the race, right here.
A 5k just a couple days away from a date where we honor and celebrate our firefighters. This can be your way to honor and support a woman who has been there, ready to save us. One of America’s Bravest.