MILITARY MATTERS: Army Veterans in Columbus Urging People to Sign Up for 9/11 Heroes Run to Help Gold Star Families

Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 6:49 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Whether you can run or walk, there’s a call out to sign up for a special event in Columbus happening to remember those killed in the September 11th attacks and in wars since. We talked to two veterans helping to organize it, while they’re rucking in honor of lost comrades.

Retired Army Staff Sergeant Lee Rollins was a young soldier when the September 11th attacks happened, his mother in Pennsylvania at the time.

“Get on your phone and still give your mom a call, make sure it didn’t hit too close to home. I remember that day so clearly,” SSG (Ret) Lee Rollins said.

“I was stationed in Bosnia, Hertkovina. I was with the 131st Task Force Med Eagle,” Army veteran Marilynn Lambert said. Lambert, as part of her 25 years in the Army, had that deployment extended because of 9-11, a tragedy on American soil that prompted wars in the middle east. Rollins deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.

“It changes your soul,” Rollins told us. “Me going over there and continuing the mission, it was about bringing peace.”

Now, both of them have a mission of honoring the lives lost 22 years ago and those that have sacrificed for our freedom since – by putting on a local 9-11 heroes run happening Saturday morning, September 9 across the nation including in Columbus.

Lambert, the race director, says the main goal is bringing military comrades and first responders together, for a good cause. Participants can wear their support in the race.

“We do a separate (race) bib and they can write who they’re running for,” Lambert said. “It’s a 5K run, but you can definitely walk. No discouragement, we want everyone to come out.”

You can register for the Chattahoochee Valley 9/11 heroes run at

There’s also an option to sign up to ruck those 3.1 miles, with requirements for weight in bags - 30 pounds for some.

“If you’re 150 pounds and below, you’re required to have a 20 pound plate or 20 pounds on your ruck,” Lambert added.

All the profits from the 9-11 heroes run on September 9 in Columbus, and other of these races around the USA, will go to the Travis Manion Foundation. It’s named for a Marine Corps Lt. killed in Iraq, famous for saying “If not me, then who.” That organization empowers families who lost loved ones in military service, the money manytimes going to youth programs.

“We challenge them to create a community service project,” Rollins explained. “Gold Star children, Gold Star families have the opportunity to go on expeditions.”

Go to to hear my full conversation with him about rucking fitness, giving back to veterans, and more.