Few American adults can forget where they were on the morning of September 11, 2001.
The Ward Family is among those Americans. We remember that day in painstaking detail. Though more than a decade has passed, it's still difficult for us to talk about, even to one another. We lost the same things you lost: our innocence, peace, and our sense of security. We flinched at those images on our television screens, and we cried alone in the dark, just like the rest of our country.
But for us, the horror and the loss were even more personal. We lost Steve.
We lost a son, a brother, a cousin, an uncle, a friend. Steve was an amazing guy. Those of us who knew him loved him, occasionally even in spite of ourselves. He loved to smile, loved to laugh, loved to be the center of attention. When Steve entered the room, something changed. Moods lifted. And when you were irritated with him and he put his arm around your shoulders and flashed that big ole grin, there was no staying mad.
Steve valued education. He was proud of his degrees and the professional and personal opportunities they afforded him. He was a small town kid from Gorham, Maine, but he studied hard. He moved to Baltimore, Boston and then Manhattan, promoting himself with each degree and certification. He was ready to take the world by the tail when he was taken from us.
We, his family, decided long ago that we wanted his legacy to be about the way he lived: he lived like he meant it. He wanted to wring the most he could out of his life, and he wanted us to do the same. We've struggled, therefore with what to do with ourselves on the anniversary of September 11th. We will never, ever, forget. And yet, we want to be uplifted. We don't want to stand and cry on that day every year. We want to remember, but we want to remember in a way that would make him proud.
For that reason, we've decided to do something with our lives, with our time, with our efforts. Something that takes the awful memories of that day and uses them to make something better happen.
We're going to raise money. Lots of money. Enough money (eventually) to send another small town kid from Maine all the way through college in Steve's name.
Please help us raise that money.
If you've wondered what to do with yourself on that weekend in September, we encourage you to run with us. Line up. Sing our national anthem. And then RUN. Let the air fill your lungs. Let the wind blow your hair. Let your feet pound the ground. And for every moment that you do those things, be thankful that you are alive and using your life to make better things happen for someone else.
That's what we are going to do. We'll see you there....