NJ 12-year-old leads leg of the Great American Relay in memory of 9/11

ByMatteo Iadonisi and Maggie Fitzgerald WPVI logo
Saturday, September 16, 2023
NJ 12-year-old leads leg of the Great American Relay in memory of 9/11
12-year-old Claire McGowan ran through Philadelphia to prove you are never too young to never forget 9/11.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "Even though I wasn't around for 9/11, it's still important to remember," said Claire McGowan.

The 12-year-old from Upper Deerfield Township, New Jersey, earned the honor of leading one leg of The Great American Relay today. The annual event is dedicated in memory of the September 11th attacks.

"I think any generation should always remember those who passed away and connect with the first responders," said McGowan.

The competitive runner from Upper Deerfield Township, New Jersey, was escorted by the Philadelphia Police Department today. She ran from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to City Hall. There, McGowan handed the baton to the next runner.

With its 4th-annual event, The Great American Relay started earlier this week on September 11th in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. After the relay reaches the 9/11 memorial in New York City tomorrow, it will have featured 101 legs, 547 miles, 59 firehouses, 6 states and DC.

The run was founded by Vince Varallo of Ambler, Pennsylvania, and rolls around in time for the anniversary of 9/11 each year.

"This is something I think that we can actually do to not forget, and remember it for at least the whole week," said Varallo. "We'd like for people to come out and support us and remember how it felt to be an American on September 12, 2001."

Participants in the event can either be lead runners or support runners. Additionally, anyone can sign up online to run in memory of 9/11 at home. Proceeds from the annual cause benefit the Green Beret Foundation.

In the future, Claire McGowan hopes to continue running and playing soccer in school while potentially studying archaeology. She also wants to become a marathon runner.

But as for what she accomplished today, she says, "I will always remember this."

To learn more about The Great American Relay, visit their website.

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