Daily Egyptian

SIU races into football season, remembers 9/11 attacks

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Jordyn Lomax-Brown, 10, sits on a Carbondale fire truck Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, shortly after the start of the Saluki Kickoff 5K and Run to Remember 9/11 at Saluki Stadium. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

Jordyn Lomax-Brown, 10, sits on a Carbondale fire truck Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, shortly after the start of the Saluki Kickoff 5K and Run to Remember 9/11 at Saluki Stadium. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

Jordyn Lomax-Brown, 10, sits on a Carbondale fire truck Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, shortly after the start of the Saluki Kickoff 5K and Run to Remember 9/11 at Saluki Stadium. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

By Bekah Sanders

Hours before the SIU football team kicks off its first home game of the season Saturday, about 100 people laced up their shoes and took to the streets around Saluki stadium.

This year, the sixth-annual Saluki 5K was combined with the fourth-annual Run to Remember 5K, an effort put together by Veteran Services, assistant athletic director Brian Clarke said.

Participants began the race by running beneath a large American flag flown from a firetruck at the starting line and ended the race on the football field.

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SIU graduate Adam Cunico, a veteran who participated in the run, said the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 motivated him to join the armed forces.

“My uncle retired as a 34-year veteran of a fire department in New Jersey,” Cunico said. “He was at [the 9/11 site] for three days after the buildings fell. The firemen and police officers that lost their lives that day are near and dear to my heart.”

Carbondale High School student Jenna Gomez, 15, runs with the American flag at the start of the Saluki Kickoff 5K and Run to Remember 9/11 on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, at Saluki Stadium. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

A flag with the names of the those killed in the attack 15 years ago was also displayed near the starting line Saturday morning.

Money raised by the event will go to a K9 benefit fund to help purchase an explosives detection dog for the SIU police department.

“It gives us more capability to do building sweeps and building checks in the event of a bomb threat,” said Cunico, who is also a corporal with SIU police.

Tim Brumley and Tony Baudino, first responders who attended the event, said they were pleased and excited the athletics department and other sponsors put on the event.

“It’s always a good thing to strengthen relationships between first responders, police, fire and [emergency medical services] so the students know that we’re here, that we’re available for them and for the community,” Baudino said.  

Joe Gomez, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, and his daughter, Jenna Gomez, raced together for the third year in a row.

Jenna, 15, ran the whole 3.1 mile course with an American flag representing Team Red, White and Blue — a veteran and civilian organization.

“It feels really good carrying it,” Jenna said. “That’s not something you see every day.”  

Staff writer Bekah Sanders can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @rsanders_DE.

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