Larry Hannon, a 28-year-old runner from Warminster – as well as Delaware Valley College’s CrossCountry Track & Field coach – placed first in Doylestown’s 2012 Travis Manion Foundation 5K Heroes Run on Sunday, September 9. Thirteen-year-old Kate Mullen of Newtown, running with four other Mullen family members, was the first female to cross the finish line. More than 1000 people competed in the 5K run; hundreds also participated in the one-mile Fun Run & Walk.
It was a day of firsts, starting with the first Heroes Run since the Manion family and the Travis Manion Foundation lost its center. In April, Janet Manion, Travis’s mother, succumbed to cancer, leaving behind a family who has dedicated themselves to continuing her legacy of service to the families of veterans and fallen heroes and to wounded soldiers who need help to shape meaningful lives for themselves.
It was also the first time the Heroes Run was staged at Fonthill Park – and a more perfect Doylestown location cannot be imagined. The sun was bright on the huge American flag strung across the tall trees as a backdrop to the stage, which itself supported a twisted, rusted beam from the World Trade Center.
Another first: Steve Cantrell, who served with Travis, led the 5K on the 2006 Harley Davidson Dyna® Street Bob motorcycle that Travis bought with the combat pay from his first deployment. Travis had put less than 300 miles on the bike at the time of his death. Later the bike was purchased by Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, to provide funds for the Travis Manion Foundation and later donated back to the organization. Earlier this year, Cantrell bought the bike from the foundation and was proud to put it to use as “pace car.”
Cantrell and Chris Manion, Travis’s uncle, established the first Heroes Run in 2008 to raise awareness and funds for the programs of the Travis Manion Foundation, founded by Janet Manion to help give some meaning to the crushing loss she felt and to help other families of fallen heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Hundreds of runners, community followers and family members converged on Fonthill’s green lawns before and after the race.
Some 50 teams of runners from families, neighborhoods, schools, businesses and community organizations and hundreds of individual runners were registered. With volunteers in the hundreds and numerous sponsors, they made this year’s event a success.
As an example of the kind of participation that this event is known for, Ken Bauer, of Boy Scout Troop 187 in Dublin, reported that the troop fielded 120 volunteers, including 103 who were scheduled to participate in the 5k or the one-mile Fun Run.
One of the teams taking part in the race was running for the Jake Revere Foundation, named for a CB East student and Eagle Scout candidate killed in a skiing accident in 2008. His classmates and other Eagle Scouts completed Jake’s Eagle Scout project because they felt their friend exemplified the spirit of the Eagle award. Jake’s friends Chris Baccash, 20, a Drexel student, and Max Bauer, 20, a student at West Point, were doing the Heroes Run for the first time this year.
“This is to honor heroes,” said Baccash, “and Jake is our hero.” Bauer pointed out that he is at West Point because of 9/11 and the thousands who lost their lives that day.
Chris Manion spoke before the race, dedicating it to the heroes of the great loss of 9/11 “followed by an enduring spirit that will never diminish. In April 2007 we lost our Travis. The Umbrell family suffered their loss in May 2007. We think about the 5,000 military lives lost, the 42,000 injured. We will never, ever, ever forget the sacrifices of our heroes.”
Chris Manion introduced PFC Adam Keys of Whitehall and his mother Julie Keys. Adam was severely wounded on July 14, 2010. The Gary Sinise Foundation, which constructs Smart Homes for wounded veterans, is accepting half of the funds raised at this year’s Doylestown run and will build a home for Adam. Adam was escorted to the event by a motorcycle honor guard and later saw the runners off and welcomed the first ones across at the finish line.
“We will be behind you and all of our heroes, as long as it takes,” said Chris. “We appreciate you and love you.”