‘Walk 93’ in September to raise funds for building of trails at 9/11 memorial

Mary Pickels, Trib Live

Planners of an inaugural “Walk 93,” which will raise funds for the building and maintenance of trails at the Flight 93 National Memorial, say they hope to make the event an annual one.

The September 26 walk, held on National Public Lands Day, will begin with a 7 a.m. tour of the site’s new visitor center. A non-competitive walk along the 2.28-mile Allee Walkway, Wetlands Bridge and Western Overlook Trail will follow at 9 a.m.

“Walk 93 will highlight one of our new experiences at Flight 93 National Memorial — the trails. The Friends (of Flight 93) support in raising awareness about the trails and providing financial support for their continued maintenance and development is invaluable,” said Stephen Clark, Western Pennsylvania National Parks superintendent, in a news release.

“We want both current and future visitors to experience this memorial landscape,” Clark said.

Friends of Flight 93 anticipate the early morning light, along with an expected show of autumn leaf colors, will lead to reflection about the events of September 11, 2001, and the lives lost aboard United Flight 93.

The plane crashed in a Stonycreek field, the fourth aircraft overtaken by terrorists on the nation’s East Coast that morning.

All 40 passengers and crew members died as some fought back against the four hijackers.

“We are hoping for at least 250 walkers,” said Rebecca Kuzar, Friends of Flight 93 executive assistant.

The National Park Service is considering several options for expanding trails at the site, she said.

“People don’t realize how expensive (developing) trails are,” Kuzar said.

Along with grading and landscaping costs of potential future trails, the existing trails may need additional surface work following the region’s typically harsh winters.

The trails link the new hilltop visitor and learning center complex, scheduled for dedication on September 10, with the Memorial Plaza below.

During a tour of the nearly completed visitor center last month, park officials reviewed plans for exhibits and displays likely to stir strong emotions. Included are audio recordings, video, photographs, personal contributions from the families, and a rotating exhibit of some of the 60,000 tributes left at the original, temporary memorial.

“After seeing the exhibits, the trails can help people decompress a bit,” Kuzar said.

Registration is open through September 12 by visiting the website.

Fee is $25 for those 18 and older, and $12 for youth 13-17, with registrants receiving T-shirts. Those 12 and younger may walk at no cost.

A nonprofit agency, the Friends formed in 2009 and includes passenger and crew family members and friends. The group focuses on awareness, education, volunteer support, preservation and stewardship.

Assisting with the walk is Leadership Somerset County, a Chamber of Commerce program designed for new community and business leaders in the area.

Anyone interested in donating, or becoming a walk sponsor or partner, can contact Kuzar at 814-893-6322 or rebecca_kuzar@partner.nps.gov.

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