Runner taking patriotic message across America | AspenTimes.com

Runner taking patriotic message across America

Amy Meyerson
Special to The Aspen Times

Bob Alessio was in Aspen recently on a short break from his run across America to support the victims of Sept. 11 and to raise money for The Brain Center in Massachusetts.

Alessio, a 54-year-old native of New Kensington, Pa., is running 5,450 miles in 288 days over a period of 324 days across America for what he terms “enduring freedom.”

“Enduring freedom is Bush’s mission to eliminate terrorism across the world, and Bush’s administration said that this is a minimum 15-year project,” he said. “My goal and objective is to pay tribute and honor the families and the victims of terrorist attacks and the emergency response units, including police, fire and EMT.”

Alessio began his run on April 23 at Del Ray Beach in Los Angeles. He will continue until he reaches his hometown of Boston next March.

He is running through all of the locations associated with Sept. 11, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the hijacked planes were destined, and the Ground Zero site in New York City.

“I originally planned to run across America on Sept. 6. I just had a flash that I should do it,” Alessio explained. “And then five days later, Sept. 11 happened, and I was consumed with thoughts of patriotism and decided to add to the route.”

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He will also stop at all of the police and fire departments in the cities and towns he passes through to “say hello and to offer our thanks.”

Alessio is collecting patches from each police and fire department he visits to bring them to Ground Zero. The gesture will let those involved in Sept. 11 know that people across the country are thinking about them, he said.

Alessio said he has always loved the mountains, making Aspen a natural stop.

“I’ve always been a mountain fan. I’ve always loved the Colorado Rockies, and I’ve never been to Aspen before. I wanted to be in Aspen because it’s John Denver’s mountain. I just love Aspen, it’s gorgeous.”

Alessio said he has had tremendous support from his family and friends and has made new friends on the run who have shown him incredible support.

While in Aspen, he said he found supportive locals who donated meals, parking for his RV and medical assistance.

He said he is always looking forward to the daily run and hasn’t had a bad day yet.

“I wake up every morning wondering what great people and beautiful landscape I’m going to bump into and see. I’m tremendously motivated.”

Alessio has also had the support of many governors and local governmental officials along the way. He’s hoping that through that support, he can term this run “America’s Freedom Trail.” At the present there is no such trail in America.

Through his run, Alessio is raising money for The Brain Center in Cape Cod, Mass. He said he heard about The Brain Center through a friend who did a similar run across America from Washington state to the East Coast.

Alessio plans to write a book about his experience and has been taking extensive notes throughout the run.

For more information about Alessio’s selected charity, The Brain Center, or to donate money, call (508) 477-5300.