Walk honoring local 9/11 victims, heroes returns this weekend to Manalapan
For the 15th consecutive year following the 9/11 attacks, a community-sponsored walk in Manalapan will raise money for various charities and scholarships for local students.
"Walk with Joe" began in 2002 at Battlefield State Park, and this year's edition will be held at that location on Saturday, Sept. 10.
"We want to have more of a cheerful day, more of a community event, community-supportive day," said Jim Gray, a former mayor of Manalapan, whose son Chris is one of the 9/11 victims the walk aims to honor. On that Tuesday morning in 2001, Chris was working as an exchange trader for Cantor Fitzgerald at the World Trade Center.
The event's namesake is Patrick "Joe" Driscoll, one of the heroes who prevented Flight 93 from hitting its intended target in Washington, D.C.
Driscoll, Gray, and a third victim, Thomas McCann, had all been Manalapan residents.
Jim Gray said donations from these walks — registration is $20 a person — have always gone to community-based charities, a list that started small but has rapidly expanded with each passing year.
"We realized we can still maintain those charities, but why not reach out and give to other charities? And we do that," he said.
The scholarships provide another way to honor Gray and McCann — the latter was a New York City firefighter and one of the initial first responders on 9/11.
"We give out two small scholarships to Manalapan High School, for a male and a female," Jim Gray said.
Registration for Walk with Joe will remain open all the way up until the start of the event, at 10 a.m.. Prospective participants can register online at walkwithjoe.com, or onsite on the day of the walk. Many who have participated in the past choose to return year after year.
"We generally average between 500 and 800 walkers a year, which is exceptional, I think," Gray said.
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