SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — South Walton Fire District firefighters, beach safety staff and Walton County residents remembered the 9/11 terrorist attacks with a memorial run Friday, starting at the same time the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York.
Some of the participants completed the run wearing weight vests, fire gear and carrying flags, as they ran down a stretch of 30A to the honks of passing cars and cheers from the community.
“Here in South Walton, it’s just our way of making sure this community never forgets,” said South Walton Fire District Chief Ryan Crawford. “Each year, we move down to a different segment along 30A, so that we expose this to another group of homeowners and residents, and citizens and visitors and such.”
The group completed 3.43 miles for the run, which stands for the 343 firefighters who lost their lives in the attacks.
Andy Isolano, a new resident to the South Walton area, has deep ties to the FDNY, after serving with the department for 11 years. He responded in the days following 9/11, ultimately retiring due to a health issue related to his service, Isolano said.
After moving to Walton County and hearing about the run, he joined alongside SWFD and ran the distance carrying a symbolic flag from start to finish.
“This flag has the name of all of the firefighters that lost their lives that day,” Isolano said. “I carry it to represent, it’s real important to me that we remember these guys. This could have been any one of us and could be any one of these kids out here on any given day.”
Chief Crawford told News 13, this was the third year the district had completed the run and hopes it continues to grow, so that the community never forgets what took place 19 years ago.