When you consider that the Brothers Before Others team entered in the 2018 New York City Tunnel To Towers 5k consists of over 160 members, many who are traveling from all over the country to run in full uniform on behalf of individuals that were lost in the line of duty, it’s hard to imagine that the team could get even more special.
That is, of course, until you meet Zechariah Cartledge.
Rather than do him and his family a disservice by improperly introducing him to you, I’m going to let his personal Crowdrise page do the talking:
9 year old Zechariah is raising funds for the Tunnel to Towers organization.
Zechariah is an avid runner. To date, he has competed in over 20 5k’s (21:39 is his personal best) as well as a Half-Marathon (2:00:51 time). While he loves to run, his passion for First Responder’s made his involvement in the 2016 Tunnel to Towers 5k in Orlando the most memorable event he has competed in to date. Zechariah ran in honor of Walwyn Stuart, who was a fallen 9/11 Port Authority Police officer. After doing reseach on Walwyn Stuart, Stephen Siller and the events that unfolded on 9/11, it led him to create a report that he shared in his 3rd grade class as well as on Social Media. His report was quickly shared hundreds of times, and it led him to the Clearwater running of the Tunnel to Towers 5k where he was able to read his report as part of the opening ceremonies.
Zechariah has decided to turn his love of running into a way to give back. With a heart for First Responder’s, Zechariah has dedicated his fundraising efforts to raise funds for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. This year, the funds that are being raised through Zechariah’s Tunnel to Towers fundraising efforts are going towards the Tunnel to Towers Smart Home Program which builds mortgage-free smart homes for our most catastrophically injured service members. Each home is custom designed to address the unique needs of each individual. Smart homes have many features including automated doors and lighting, wider halls and doorways, special showers to accommodate wheelchairs, automatic door openers, cabinets, counters, and stove tops that can be raised and lowers, back-up generators, and central heating and air conditioning systems that can be controlled by tablets. These homes enable our most severely injured heroes to live better, more independent lives. To date, the foundation has built 75 homes including some locally in Central Florida, and the goal is to be able to provide 200 homes to our heroes.
Zechariah and our entire family are VERY appreciative for everyone who has visited this page and who has considered being a part of something so awesome. Your support means more than words can say, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
After traveling to New York in order to participate in Sunday’s event and meeting some Port Authority Police Officers, Zechariah and his dad were put in contact with Brothers Before Others. As a group whose primary mission is helping police officers and their families, how can we collectively not be floored by the selfless act of a 9 year old boy who, for the Tunnel to Towers event held earlier this year in Florida, raised $11,250.00 for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
As such, Zechariah and his dad will be joining this year’s BBO team, which has dedicated the day to the memory of Weymouth PD Sergeant Michael Chesna. Weymouth PD will be represented by over 20 members of their department, many who will be running in full uniform, as well as members of Sgt Chesna’s family.
When reached for comment, BBO Founder/President Michael Burke said, “After reading Zechariah’s story, I immediately reread it, scanning for the part that I thought I misread: THIRD GRADE? This young man, at the tender age of nine, is a leader; a leader by action and not words. I am honored that he will be joining us on Sunday. Unbeknownst to him, he will be carrying one of the Sgt Chesna subdued Blue Line American Flags which we had made specifically for this event. He will lead our team as we, along with Sgt Chesna’s coworkers, wife and family, honor their lost loved one while tracing Stephen Sillers footsteps.”
On behalf of the over 5600 members of Brothers Before Others and the over 800,000 sworn active duty law enforcement, we would like to thank Zechariah for his actions. His gift of selflessness and appreciation, at a time where such sentiments are sorely needed, is humbling to witness. In a plot twist, it US that is in awe of HIM.
For Zechariah’s Official Crowdrise Page:
For More on the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation
For More on Port Authority Police Officer Walwyn Stuart:
To Register for the 2018 NYC Tunnel to Towers: