MANALAPAN – The men and women who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, will be remembered when the 18th annual Walk With Joe takes place at 10 a.m. Sept. 7 at Monmouth Battlefield State Park, Route 33, Manalapan.
People of all ages are expected to converge on the park to honor and pay tribute to Patrick “Joe” Driscoll, Chris Gray, Tom McCann and to all of the other area residents who died that day.
A 5-kilometer walk through the park will be part of the morning’s activities.
“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. 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,” she 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.
“Each year our Walk With Joe committee is proud to organize and run what consistently has been a heartfelt, upbeat and patriotic memorial event enjoyed by several hundred participants,” Zebrowski said.
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.
During the spring, the committee hosted a Walk With Joe charity golf outing at the Pine Barrens Golf Club, Jackson. Organizers said the golf outing raised a significant amount of money for the charities that are supported by the event.
Since the walk’s inception nearly 18 years ago, the event has raised and donated almost $400,000 to charities and scholarships, according to the organizers.
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. 7. 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