KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — The impacts of 9/11 continue to ripple through the country more than two decades after the event — even more so closer to the anniversary of the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of almost 3,000 people.
Willow and Tom Clerici Jr. moved from New Jersey to Kingsport in 2021. This year, the couple organized an event in memory and honor of Clerici Jr.’s uncle, John Frederick Rhodes — better known among the family as Uncle Jack — who had been on the 92nd floor of the second tower when it fell.
The family will host the Kingsport Travis Manion Foundation 9/11 Heroes 5K Walk/Run/Ruck Shadow Event at the Dobyns-Bennett High School track on Sept. 10 at 9 a.m. to honor Rhodes, other 9/11 victims and those who responded to the tragedy and worked throughout the recovery efforts.
“As a Mentor and Spartan of the Travis Manion Foundation, I am impacted by Travis’ ethos of, ‘If not me, then who?'” Willow wrote to News Channel 11. “I have organized this event to stand in servant leadership, create connection, belonging, honor our family and all the families and communities that will ‘never forget.'”
Another family member, Willow’s step-brother, Albert John Mallen Jr. was in New York on 9/11. The Atlantic City firefighter assisted the New York Police Department and Fire Department in relief efforts following the biggest terrorist attack on American soil.
Five years ago, Mallen Jr. lost his life to suicide.
According to Willow, the family gathers each year on Sept. 11 to share a meal and memories of loved ones impacted by 9/11 and to honor those who served on the frontlines and gave it all.
To register for the event, click here. Funds raised will go toward the family members of 9/11 victims as well as veterans to empower them to get involved in their communities.