Monday, July 12, 2021
I want to welcome you to the 20th Anniversary and last Run to Remember. In the fall of 2001, we were vacationing with family in Rehobeth Beach. We were still living in Austin but had made the decision to move home with Ben, who was nine months old, and open Charm City Run. We may have still been looking for our first location or we may have had the current Timonium location in our sights.
On the morning of 9/11, we were chasing around Ben and my niece Emily, and everyone was having their morning coffee. You know what happened. Whatever answer I was looking for was not going to be found on CNN or any other channel. The problem for me was what to do. I guess technically I could have joined the US Military. It was probably a fleeting thought, but I was 31 with a new baby, moving and starting a business. My wife Kara who had already agreed to move in with my parents while we tried to launch Charm City Run, would have been understandably less than supportive. Still young people braver than I was and willing to make more of a personal sacrifice make this decision every day and for that they deserve our thanks, always.
I had to get out of the house. I do what we always do. I went outside and started moving my legs. I walked up and down a deserted beach while the U.S. Navy patrolled the coast from the air. I knew what we would do. We would come together as a community on every 9/11 to move our legs as one. Running brings people together of all walks of life, all colors, all income levels, all types of workers and all types of families. We would comfort each other, and we would show strength as one.
We would remember the victims.
We would thank the U.S Military and our local first responders.
We would raise money for the things that they need.
Of all the reporting that was occurring after 9/11, the stories of the incredible men and women that gave all or were willing to, to save the thousands of the people at the World Trade Center struck me. When was the last time I thanked a police officer or a firefighter? Why do we have to wait until something terrible happens to thank a first responder? We would change that. At least once a year, we would say loudly those words that go so far, THANK YOU! It matters.
On a Wednesday morning at 7am in War Memorial Plaza, we hosted 2,200 runners for the Inaugural Run to Remember. Together we remembered, thanked the U.S. Military and our local first responders and we raised money to purchase AED’s (defibrillators) for police cars. Businessmen and women walked in their suits. Firefighters ran in turnout gear. Police cadets ran in formation. The Police Commissioner and Fire Chief came out to thank the runners and walkers for being there. It was the lovefest I envisioned, hoped for and was thankful for.
In 19 years, we have hosted 30,000 runners, we have raised over $400,000 for equipment, the mounted unit, the K-9 unit, and the Fallen Heroes Fund, but I would argue that the most important thing we have done is to say THANK YOU and remember.
I want to thank you if you just came out to run, if you were running in honor of someone, if you just wanted to say thank you, if you wanted to pay your respects and if you wanted to show your strength, it mattered. To the people that have run 18 times thank you.
To the city for letting us put it on the first year. To St. Joe’s for understanding what this meant and to Mercy for continuing the legacy. To Kelly Benefits, true patriots and leaders in the community. To Mizuno and then Brooks. To the Shake Shack, Thank you all.
When I called the Mayor’s Office 21 years ago, they did not laugh in my face, but they did divert me to Councilwoman Pugh, who asked one question, “Was I working with Dave Cooley.” I responded that I was which was not true. I called Dave Cooley and he told me I was crazy, and he also said Yes. That started a partnership, which turned into a friendship, which turned into a merger, the launch of Charm City Run Events and the acquisition of a father figure and mentor.
On September 11, 2021, we will welcome you to the 20th Anniversary of the Run to Remember. I look forward to seeing you, thanking you, being there with Charm City Run Nation, and most importantly, thanking the men and women braver than I, for doing the hard work.