Abington: 14th Annual Jeff Coombs Memorial Road Race is Sunday

An Abington woman who lost her husband in the 9/11 attacks has found a way to honor his memory – and turn her tragedy into something that helps others.

And 14 years later, it’s still going strong. This Sunday (September 13) is the 14th Annual Jeff Coombs Memorial Road Race, Walk, and Family Day.

“It really turns out to be a wonderful family day,” said Christie Coombs, “a nice day of community, and a way for people to acknowledge a day that, yes, was absolutely horrible, but so much good came of it.

“It’s hard to explain that you don’t want the day to have happened, but you’re grateful for the good things that have come from it.”

Coombs is president and founder of the Jeff Coombs Memorial Foundation, which has funded and distributed more than $450,000 in grants, scholarships and programs since 2002.

“So much good came from a terrible tragedy, and we want people to remember that part of it, and remember the people that died,” said Coombs. “We do that with the foundation and through the road race by encouraging people to honor and remember, and pay it forward.”

Coombs honors her husband Jeff, who died just days before his 43rd birthday on Sept. 11, 2001, with this special event, which she explained is more than just a race.

“It’s all-encompassing,” she said, even for those who are less athletically-inclined. “People always say to me, ‘I’d like to participate, but I don’t run.’ I tell them, ‘You don’t have to run; you don’t even have to walk.’”

The race itself is a 5K, and “we have a pretty good turnout for the run,” said Coombs. “But it’s also a 5K leisurely walk, and if people don’t want to do either, they can sit back at the Woodsdale School where it’s held and just enjoy the music, enjoy the activities, enjoy all the free food… It’s a real community event.”

This year’s event has a special focus on the military.

“For the first time we’re going to have some military ‘ruckers,’ which means we’re going to have about eight military men and women, running in uniform, carrying their 25-pound rucksacks,” said Coombs.

“One vet is even going to be running in uniform with his pack, pushing his adult brother in a wheelchair,” she added. “So that’s going to be quite a sight to see… Pretty impressive.”

Also, “When people check in, they’ll be able to take a sticker bearing the name of somebody who died on 9/11 from Massachusetts, as well as a service member who died in service to the country as a result of post 9/11 service.”

Participants on Sunday are asked to bring a non-perishable item to support the local food pantry.

“We’ve got a lot of focus on honoring the military, honoring those who died on 9/11, and encouraging people to give back,” Coombs said. 

The race starts at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Woodsdale School in Abington. You can register in person starting at 7:30 a.m., or online ahead of the race at www.racewire.com.

Learn more at www.jeffcoombsfund.org.

The Coombs family. Jeff, top left, died at the age of 42 in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. His wife Christie, far right, founded the Jeff Coombs Memorial Foundation in his honor. Photo courtesy www.jeffcoombsfund.org.

The Coombs family. Jeff, top left, died at the age of 42 in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. His wife Christie, far right, founded the Jeff Coombs Memorial Foundation in his honor. Photo courtesy www.jeffcoombsfund.org.

 

Hear more with Christie Coombs speaking with WATD’s Kevin Tocci on Monday Night Talk.


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About Erin Dale

Erin Dale is an Anchor/Reporter for WATD. She is also a New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA) award-winning print journalist and previously worked for GateHouse Media.