More than 400 runners from the community rallied behind the patriotism of Turlock Army Veteran Cory Smith Thursday for the Third Annual 9/11 Red, White and Blue 5K Run.
In total, runners donated a record $1,600 to the Wounded Warrior Project, a cause that has special meaning for Smith.
While serving in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010 several of Smith’s fellow soldiers and friends were badly injured or lost their lives in the line of duty.
Two years ago Smith picked up his U.S. Flag on 9/11 with a U.S. Marine friend and simply started running. He never imagined that simple “Forrest Gump” reaction, as he calls it, would have materialized into a massive collection of patriots rallying behind him through the streets of Turlock.
“It feels really good to know this many people care,” said Smith.
This year’s run was especially important to Smith because his 1-year-old daughter London came out to participate with her mother on a bicycle.
“It’s not only this country that I fight for, its her,” Smith said. “She’s my life.”
This year people of all sorts came out for the run, including the Turlock High School Navy JROTC, the THS Cross Country team, several members of the Hilmar High Cross Country Team and future Marines from the Marine Recruiting Center in Turlock, as well as hundreds of other patriots who simply felt inspired to run.
“The kids were very eager to be involved,” said THS Cross Country coach JoAnn Davison. “They are such great kids.”
NJRTOC Major Kelly Cross explained that the meaning of the run is important because some of his students do not remember 9/11.
“I have some freshmen who were 1-year-old when 9/11 happened so it’s important to keep the memory of that day alive,” he said. “They really don’t realize what effect it had on the world.”
Thanks to people like Cory Smith 9/11 will not be forgotten.