Medal of Honor Recipient to take part in 9/11 Heroes Run on Daniel Island
Kyle Carpenter understands what freedom truly means. He knows that defending it could require sacrificing his own life. And in November of 2010, while serving as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan, he very nearly did. That fall, while many of us stateside were just kicking off the start of a festive holiday season, Lance Corporal Carpenter, an automatic rifleman with Company F, 2nd Battalion, found himself in the midst of a fierce attack by enemy forces. Carpenter and a fellow marine were manning a rooftop when a grenade landed near their position. Without hesitation, the serviceman, just 21 years old at the time, threw himself on the grenade to protect his partner. The act would later earn Carpenter a distinguished Medal of Honor, the highest honor awarded to a member of the military. “When the grenade detonated, his body absorbed the blunt of the blast, severely wounding him, but saving the life of his fellow Marine,” states the citation for his award. “By his undaunted courage, bold fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of almost certain death, Lance Corporal Carpenter reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.” On September 12, Carpenter will be an esteemed guest at the Charleston 9/11 Heroes Run on Daniel Island. The 5K event pays tribute to the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, including hundreds of first responders. It is also an event to honor all military and first responders, past and present, who serve our country and communities. After chatting with members of the crowd and making a few brief remarks during the opening ceremonies, Carpenter will join participants in the race - running alongside them to the finish line. “It is so extremely important that as a people and nation we never forget 9/11,” said Carpenter, now a student at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. “While we remember, we must also continue to serve and honor all who have sacrificed and served for our great nation.” “We’re very, very excited to have Kyle take part,” added Theresa Faircloth, the event’s director, who extended the invitation to Carpenter. “I didn’t think it was going to happen. We know he is flooded with requests for national appearances, so for him to take time to join us at our 9/11 Heroes Run in Charleston is beyond amazing! We are extremely honored!” Carpenter is participating in an event that has been growing steadily since its debut in Mount Pleasant in 2012, when just 259 runners and walkers signed on. The second year, when the race moved to Daniel Island, the numbers increased to 373, and in 2014 more than 400 took part. This year, Faircloth and her team have set a goal of reaching 1,000 participants. Judging by registrations thus far, they are well on their way. “Right now, we already have 338 registered,” she said. “Just for comparison, at this time last year we had 118 runners registered. We’ve almost tripled! As of right now, in comparison to last year, we’ve grown almost 300 percent!” Sponsorships are also on the rise, added Faircloth. They typically take in between $8,000 and $12,000 a year from monetary sponsors, not including donations. They have collected a whopping $23,000 thus far for this year’s event. “We’ve more than doubled our monetary sponsors and we’ve tripled our registrations,” said Faircloth, whose husband, Jesse, is a City of Charleston firefighter. “We’re finally growing! This is where I was hoping it was going to be from the beginning.” The new numbers speak volumes not only about how well planners have executed the event thus far, but also about how much its mission resonates with those who take part. The 9/11 Heroes Run is held in more than 50 venues across the country each year. Approximately 50 percent of proceeds benefit the Travis Manion Foundation, an organization dedicated to assisting our nation’s veterans and the families of fallen heroes. The foundation is named in memory and honor of Manion, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Marines who was fatally wounded in 2007 during an attack against enemy forces in Iraq. The other 50 percent in proceeds from each event is given to local charities that support military and first responder organizations. In the case of the Charleston 9/11 Run, this year those monies will go towards the South Carolina Fraternal Order of Police (SCFOP) Distressed Officers Fund, the City of Goose Creek Fire Department, and the C&B Volunteer Fire Department in Ladson. Since the 9/11 Heroes Run came to the Charleston area, almost $25,000 has been donated to local agencies, including the Charleston Fire Department (CFD), the Charleston 9 Memorial Fund, Gifting Warriors, the SCFOP Distressed Officer’s Fund, Lowcountry Firefighters Support Team and the Summerville Fire Department (SFD). A large portion of the proceeds have been used to purchase high quality, LED “survivor flashlights” for members of the CFD and SFD. “Between those two departments, we have put these flashlights into the hands of more than 420 firemen,” stated Faircloth, who added that the new devices were especially helpful last year in the successful search for a missing Johns Island toddler. “That’s just one example that we know of of how our Heroes Run has made a difference in the community. And if you think about how many times these two fire departments use these flashlights, it’s not only helping them do their jobs more safely and efficiently, it’s also aiding the public. The easier and more efficiently they can do their jobs, the better they are at saving lives.” The goal is to outfit every fire department in the tri-county area with the flashlights, added Faircloth. The hard work of organizers as well as sponsors will help them do that. High on the list of supporters this year, continued Faircloth, is the Daniel Island Exchange Club, an organization that has been working diligently to help promote the race as well as bringing in sponsors, registrations and volunteers. “They have been a wonderful, wonderful asset,” said Faircloth. “A mutual goal of both The Exchange Club and the 9/11 Heroes Run is to promote Americanism by activating the local community to honor and support military service men and women, veterans and first responders,” said Bill Power of the Daniel Island Exchange Club. “Our goals are perfectly aligned, plus we have the distinct pleasure of welcoming this year’s guest of honor, Congressional Medal of Honor winner Kyle Carpenter! Kyle is an amazing young man and it’s very important that the Island come out in mass and show our appreciation.” Faircloth is also quick to point out that this event is for everyone - walkers and runners, even those who just want to sit on the sidelines to show their support. All are welcome and all are encouraged to take part, she said. “Yes it’s a 5K, but what separates us from all the other 5K’s is the emotion behind it. This is not just about how fast you cross the finish line. This is about uniting as a community to stand together regardless of age, sex, religion, and race, to say we’ll never forget what happened on 9/11, and we’ll also never forget the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make on a daily basis.” For additional information or to register for the Charleston 9/11 Heroes Run, please visit www.911heroesrun.org or www.travismanion.org, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.