COLUMBIA, S.C. — This Sunday marks 21 years since the September 11 terrorist attack in the United States.
In remembrance of the day, thousands of military personnel, first responders, and community members gathered Friday for a 5K run with the proceeds supporting those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"I really, really want to support everyone who did serve during that time even though I was not able to at the time," Amy Ajgaonkor, a race participant, said.
According to David Kerr, an organizer, the program, led by the Tunnels to Towers Foundation, began in New York before coming to Columbia roughly nine years ago in honor of Stephen Siller, an off-duty New York fireman who returned on September 11 to serve.
"Instead of going home he put on his bunker gear and, he had it with him," Kerr said, "and he ran through the (Brooklyn Battery Tunnel) to get back to work and then ultimately lost his life when the towers fell. So, that's what they honor. That’s what the foundation honors.”
The foundation now hosts 5K's around the country with the proceeds going toward mortgage-free homes for military and families of fallen first responders.
"It's a solemn reason why we do what we do," Kerr said, "but at the end of the day we’re helping that family and honoring the service of their loved one.”
Jarrod Riley, who is in the army, was the first to finish the race.
"'Let's us remember what's the reason we put our uniform on every morning," Riley said. "It's bigger than us."
On Sunday, Governor Henry McMaster will join members of the military and first responders to reflect on the events of 9/11.
The event begins at 8:40am at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, 1101 Lincoln Street.