Dennis Cross: Running for a Memory

The race seemed more important than ever. For 18 years, on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Dennis Cross competed in the Turkey Trot, a 5- kilometer race held in Flushing Meadows, Queens, where firefighters ran for charity. Now he would be absent.

His wife, JoAnn, used to operate a fitness studio and induced him to run with her. But once the children arrived, she stopped running. That was 15 years ago.

Yet she felt an unshakable need to have a Cross in the Turkey Trot to honor her husband, a battalion chief of Battalion 57 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. So she concluded she would be that Cross. And she would recruit additional firefighters to run, too, in honor of all the firefighters lost in the attack.

Chief Cross, 60, known as Captain Fearless, lived with his wife in Islip Terrace, N.Y. His favorite saying was, "Take care of the men and the men will take care of you." Mrs. Cross was going to take care of his memory. She vowed she would finish this race and then begin an annual memorial run for her husband next April 27, the anniversary of the day they met.

For nine weeks, she trained, building up endurance. Race day came. She ran, as did her four children. She finished in 29 minutes. "I thought I was going to do it in 45 minutes," she said. "I was proud of myself."