Run. Walk. Serve. 9/11 Memorial 5K Run/Walk

04/02/2013 09:11 am ET | Updated Jun 02, 2013

On April 21, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation making 9/11 a day of service and volunteerism in remembrance of those who perished in the Sept. 11 attacks. April 21 also marks the date for the inaugural 9/11 Memorial 5K Run/Walk and Family Day, an event to encourage public service and support of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The 5K Run/Walk, which is about 3.1 miles, starts at Hudson River Park's Pier 57 and finishes near the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site. It will take participants on a historic route through lower Manhattan, reminding us all of how we came together to support one another in the aftermath of 9/11. As part of the event, supporters will also have an opportunity to sign up to volunteer for various causes.

The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who is a 9/11 Memorial board member, is serving as the event's honorary chairman, and former New York Giants defensive end George Martin is walking in the event to help spread awareness and to support fundraising.

From the fall of 2007 to the summer of 2008, Martin walked more than 3,000 miles from New York to California. He embarked on "a Journey for 9/11" to help raise money to provide healthcare for sickened 9/11 responders. To help preserve this incredible 9/11 story, he also donated to the 9/11 Memorial Museum's collection a pair of tennis shoes he wore during his coast-to-coast charity walk.

We hope you, your friends and family can join us by signing up at The Family Day after the Run/Walk is open for all with no need to register.

Like many New Yorkers after the 9/11 attacks, I felt compelled to help in any way I could. As someone with a rich history in public service, I did my best to volunteer as much as possible. I unloaded supply trucks and donated blood. But often times, I noticed there were so many people willing to help, some were turned away.

In response, I sat at my computer and started writing emails to my fellow Peace Corps co-workers whose office at 6 World Trade Center was destroyed. (My colleagues survived the attack.) I supported, comforted and motivated my fellow employees, many of whom were close friends. I encouraged them to stay strong, take care of their families and try to find the energy to volunteer in any way they could. I even urged some to help with the makeshift memorials that sprang up across the city after the attack.

This created a wave of communications that spread quickly to a much larger outer circle. Relatives, friends and colleagues, all began sharing their stories of grief and support for one another and our country, and offered leads on how and where to volunteer. Two weeks later, our working family reunited at a temporary office in Greenwich Village. I get chills to this day, thinking about that reunion. We hugged, cried and were thankful for surviving an attack in our backyard.

New Yorkers and people worldwide had a shared mission of coming together after the 2001 attacks to volunteer, whether handing out water, unloading supply trucks or handing out clothing.

Everyone wanted to help. More than 12 years later, people are coming together again in the spirit of volunteerism by joining the Run/Walk and Family Day.

After the Run/Walk, the Family Day -- a community event that includes activities for all ages -- encourages children and families to remember 9/11 through participation in volunteer opportunities.

The event, which is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Vesey Street between Church Street and Broadway, near the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site, will offer information about the 9/11 Memorial, as well as ways to learn more about volunteering as part of the National 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance. In addition, the 9/11 Memorial is proud to be joined by our partner organizations, New York Says Thank You Foundation and the 9/11 Tribute Center, whose missions are grounded in honoring the men, women and children killed on 9/11.

There are so many ways in which you can contribute and support the Run/Walk. You can make a donation, create a personal fundraising page or even create your own team, as some of the 9/11 Memorial volunteers have done. If you want to donate your time at the 9/11 Memorial, I recommend signing up and joining our volunteers year round. We can help make a difference on 9/11, April 21 and every day.

To register for the Run/Walk, visit Stay connected #Memorial5K.