MANALAPAN – The men and women who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, will be remembered when the 17th annual Walk With Joe takes place at 10 a.m. Sept. 8 at Monmouth Battlefield State Park, Route 33, Manalapan.
People of all ages are expected to converge on the hallowed Revolutionary War ground to honor and pay tribute to Patrick “Joe” Driscoll, Chris Gray, Tom McCann and all other area residents who died that day.
A 5-kilometer walk through the park will be part of the morning’s activities, which will also include remarks from family members and members of the clergy.
“Walk With Joe is nearing its 20-year mark and we are still amazed and incredibly thankful for all of the participants who continue to be a part of this event, year after year,” said Michele Cleary, who handles publicity for the event. “It is a day of remembrance and also a day to celebrate the lives of those who were lost.
“In April, the Walk With Joe Committee sponsored another event in which all proceeds have already been donated to the Samaritan Center. We continue to support charitable organizations that donate goods and services to the community.
“The walk specifically honors Joe Driscoll, Christopher Gray and Tom McCann, but is also dedicated to all those who lost theirs lives on 9/11,” Cleary said.
Joe Zebrowski and Dennis Walsh are the co-chairmen of the Walk With Joe, assisted by a committee of about 15 people who help to organize the event.
All proceeds from the Walk With Joe, including money raised from participants and sponsors, are donated to charities.
Organizations which have benefited include the Samaritan Center food bank, the Freehold Open Door food bank, the Monmouth County Child Advocacy Center, Brennan Stands Alone, American Recreational Military Services, Monmouth Battlefield State Park, the RJM Foundation (a special needs youth organization), the Flight 93 National Memorial, the Monmouth County Mount Mitchill Memorial Park, the University of West Virginia Christopher Gray Memorial Scholarship Fund, youth athletic programs, and nonprofit organizations serving the area with humanitarian aid and programs.
Memorial scholarships through the Freehold Regional High School District have been established to honor the memories of Gray and McCann, according to the organization’s website.
Gray, who was an exchange trader at Cantor Fitzgerald in 2001, was born and raised in Manalapan, graduating from Manalapan High School, where he played football for the Braves.
Gray earned a football scholarship and attended West Virginia University where he played quarterback for the Mountaineers while earning a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree.
McCann, a 23-year veteran of the Fire Department of New York, was an initial first responder on Sept. 11 as a member of Engine Company 65.
Gray and McCann lost their lives at the World Trade Center in New York City when two hijacked airplanes brought down the Twin Towers.
Driscoll was a Manalapan resident for more than 35 years and was an active member of the community. He was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93 which crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers fought back against the terrorists who had taken control of the plane from the crew. No one survived the plane’s crash into the Pennsylvania countryside.
Authorities later said the hijackers’ plan may have been to crash Flight 93 into the White House or the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
At the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, a hijacked airplane was flown into the building that is the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense. Nearly 200 people died at that location.
The first Walk With Joe was held in September 2002. All members of the community are invited to participate on Sept. 8. Registration is $20 per person (children under 7 are free). For more information, visit www.walkwithjoe.com, call 732-786-3437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org