POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. -- On the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, a Powhatan man is running 343 laps -- more than 85 miles -- around the Powhatan High School track. One lap for each New York firefighter who died that day.
Russell Holland Jr. said he felt called to do it, and teamed up with Powhatan Fire and Rescue to make it happen.
"This year will be the first year that the high school graduating class will be predominantly unborn on 9/11," said Holland. “Even though it was a tragic event, it highlighted that we really can pull together."
He began the run at midnight, and planned to finish around 21 hours later. For each lap, a photo of a first responder who died that day was displayed.
"It brings back all those emotions that we had then, because it’s so important for the brotherhood and sisterhood of the fire community," he said.
As the day went on, an outpouring of support from the community came to Powhatan High School. Some ran while others cheered from the sidelines.
One Powhatan resident, Donna Schultz, came out to run with an American flag in hand, and the picture of a man taped to her back.
"Every 9/11, I run 9.11 miles in memory of Ronald Hemenway," Schultz said. "He was killed in the attack on the Pentagon and he was one of five whose remains were never found."
Schultz said she does it to keep his memory alive.
Members of the Powhatan Volunteer Rescue Squad, Fire Department, and Powhatan High School joined Holland in the run. Holland said he wanted to keep the memory of what that day -- September 11, 2001 -- felt like.
"For a short period of time we stopped thinking of each other as this political party or that political party, and we really came together to embrace each other," Holland said.
All the proceeds from the event will go back towards Powhatan first responders. Donations can be made here.