Community to remember local residents lost on 9/11

By Clare Marie Celano News Transcript

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, never leave the minds and hearts of the country’s residents.

Locally, there are those who hold the memories of those heroes who lost their lives — and walk for them.

The annual Walk with Joe, a memorial 5K event named in honor of Patrick “Joe” Driscoll, will be held at 10 a.m. September 7 at Monmouth Battlefield State  Park, Route 33, Manalapan. The walk, which has been held every year since the attacks, is dedicated to Driscoll, Christopher Gray and Thomas McCann, all Manalapan residents.

On the morning of September 11, Driscoll, 70, was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked after taking off from Newark Liberty International Airport. The passengers and crew members fought back against the terrorists, thwarting their plan to crash the jet into a target in Washington, D.C. Instead, the plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa.

Driscoll, who had resided in Manalapan for 40 years, left behind his wife of 43 years, Maureen, four children and five grandchildren. As a member of the Yorktowne Club in Manalapan, he spent countless hours coaching sports and teaching and giving back to his community, according to the Walk with Joe website. He was a U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Korean War. He retired from Bellcore as executive director of software development.

Christopher S. Gray was working as a foreign-exchange trader at Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center on the day of the attacks. He is the son of former Manalapan mayor Jim Gray and his wife, Janet. He was engaged to his college sweetheart, Kelly. Chris was a Manalapan High School quarterback who earned a football scholarship to the University of West Virginia.

Thomas J. McCann, 46, was a 23-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department, pending retirement in 2002. He was a member of Engine Company 65. The firefighter was one of the first to respond to the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. He left behind his wife Anne Marie and two children.

Manalapan resident George McCann, Thomas’ brother, said it is nice that so many organizations help to preserve the memories of those who lost their lives in the attacks.

He said his brother’s wife and children participate in the walk and “appreciate that people remember their dad.”

“It is a nice get-together of the friends and neighbors who knew our family and those who did not,” George McCann said, adding that the walk is a “very special day to honor and remember.

“It is a way to continue to keep the memory alive of all those who lost their lives on that horrific day,” he said.

Walk with Joe has raised more than $250,000 since its inception and has involved more than 8,500 participants.

Proceeds from the event benefit charities including the Samaritan Center food pantry in Manalapan, the Freehold Area Open Door food pantry in Freehold Borough, the Monmouth County Child Advocacy Center, the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., and the University of West Virginia Christopher Gray Memorial Scholarship Fund, as well as youth athletic programs and other local nonprofit organizations.

Many businesses and organizations support Walk with Joe as sponsors. These include Saker ShopRite Inc., Englishtown Auction Sales, Hartigan’s Grille, Manalapan Soccer Club, Court Jester, CME Associates, Fitness magazine and ESPN The Magazine.

To register for the walk, visit the website.

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