IF YOU GO
• When: Sept. 13; 7:30 a.m. arrival, 8 a.m. start time
• Where: Enterprise South Nature Park
• What: 9/11 Heroes Run
• Cost: $35 per single registration; $99 per team (four or more people)
• Contact: www.eventbrite.com
Chattanooga native Ashley Cross may live in Indiana now, but when she and her Navy SEAL husband wanted to honor police, firefighter and military service members, the first place she thought of was the Scenic City.
On Sept. 13 she'll lead a 5k fundraising run at Enterprise South Nature Park.
Cross hopes local firefighters, police, active duty military and veterans participate along with public supporters. This is the first time the 9/11 Heroes Run is being held in Chattanooga. The run is part of the Travis Manion Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports veterans and survivors of fallen service members.
It was established shortly after the death of U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Travis Manion in 2007 in Iraq.
Cross was inspired to help spread the national race to Chattanooga after living the life of a military spouse.
Her husband, Michael Cross, whom she met while attending Boyd-Buchanan School, became a SEAL and since has been deployed three times.
Michael's close friend and fellow SEAL spoke at Manion's funeral and later died in combat action in Afghanistan. Cross said the resolve she saw on display from wives in the military community motivated her to get involved.
"The [Manion] movement served as a catalyst to serve others, to serve the community," she said.
She and Michael have run in two previous races. Well, she didn't actually run in one because she was pregnant at the time, Cross said. But she did walk it.
That's another option for racers, a 1-mile family fun run/walk.
Half of the event's proceeds will go to the foundation, Cross said. But the other half will be spent locally with the downtown YMCA.
Dustin Mason, associate executive director of the facility, said the money will establish a Parents Night Out program once a month at the location.
Police, firefighters and military families can bring children to the downtown YMCA on the last Friday of the month from 6 to 10 p.m. beginning in September for free child care so that couples can have a "date night."
There will be food provided, swimming, athletics and other activities to entertain the children, he said.
The goal is to expand the program to other facilities if funds are available, Mason said.