Annual Freedom Walk to honor 9/11 victims

Herald file photo
To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2016, Brandon Schaefer of Ferdinand, left, and Craig Atkins of St. Anthony led more than 30 members of Team RWB on an 11-mile march from Ferdinand to Jasper along State Road 162. Team RWB will mark the 17th anniversary of the attacks this Sunday with a walk from the Huntingburg Veterans Memorial to Los Bravos in Jasper.

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

Tuesday marks the 17th anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil, when nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

Sunday, Dubois County veterans group Team Red, White & Blue will lead an 11-mile trek from the Huntingburg Veterans Memorial to Los Bravos in Jasper as part of the group’s third annual Freedom Walk, which commemorates the anniversary of the attacks and honors the victims.

The local chapter of the national nonprofit group has been a fixture in the county for more than four years and aims to enrich the lives of veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. It boasts more than 300 local members — officially called Team RWB Jasper/Ferdinand — and was started in 2014 by Eric Evitts and his wife, Angie. Both veterans and civilians who have not served can join.

About 150 people are expected to attend this year’s walk — more than twice as many as last year. Chapter Captain Josh Lange attributes the jump in numbers to word of the event spreading.

Eric Evitts, former chapter captain and current athletic director, said the walk came about because the group wanted to do something different for their annual 9/11 memorial.

“We know people enjoy going out and exercising, I guess you could say,” he said. “So, we just kind got the idea that we’re going to walk 11 miles as a tribute.”

The event is free and open to anyone who wants to walk. Participants will depart from the Huntingburg Veterans Memorial at 8 a.m., so Lange encouraged anyone wanting to attend to arrive before 7:30. Parking will be available at the Huntingburg Event Center. All participants are required to sign a waiver.

The freedom walkers will start the walk by heading north on U.S. 231, hanging a right on West 100 South and taking a left on South Newton Street before arriving at the Los Bravos Mexican restaurant. The walk will take place rain or shine, and support vehicles will trail behind the walkers. Lange estimated the walk will take between four and four and a half hours.

“The biggest goal, I would say, is just to get people to come out and just honor and remember those that lost their lives on 9/11,” Evitts said. “Really, that’s just the biggest thing.”

According to CNN, of those who perished on 9/11, 343 were New York City firefighters, 23 were New York City police officers and 37 were officers at the Port Authority.

Members from five area fire departments are expected to participate in the Freedom Walk in their full gear, as are members of a couple local police departments and the county sheriff’s department.

The event is one of the Team RWB Jasper/Ferdinand’s biggest of the year. The annual Veterans Day clay shoot at Cool Springs also draws a big crowd. That event will take place on Nov. 3. Smaller events, such as camping trips and other clay shoots, also dot the group’s calendar.

Darren Patterson, veterans outreach director for the local chapter, has participated in every freedom walk the group has hosted. He said the organization provides a way for veterans and civilians to get together and build camaraderie.

“It’s just, I believe, a really low-key, low-stress environment to where it’s just like, ‘Lets just focus on getting together,’” Patterson said of the group. “‘Let’s just focus on connecting.’”

More information about the club and its activities can be found on the Team RWB Jasper/Ferdinand IN Facebook page.




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