by Jack Long
In honor of Boston College graduate and September 11 victim Welles Crowther, Boston College held its annual Red Bandanna 5K in front of Gasson Hall.
As part of the BC Class of 1995, Crowther was a lacrosse player and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Only six years after graduating, he was working on the 104th floor of the South Tower when a plane crashed into the 81st floor. Outside of a brief voicemail to his mother, nothing else was known about what happened to Crowther. It took months for his family to hear words of a man who evacuated people from the 78th floor with a notable accessory: a red bandanna, something Welles never went anywhere without. Welles Crowther had spent his final hours helping firefighters save lives at the cost of his own.
Now fully aware of their son’s heroism, Jefferson and Alison Crowther worked to honor his memory by establishing the Welles Crowther Charitable Trust in 2002. Fifteen years later, the Trust continues to fund scholarships like “The Birchwood Award,” which is awarded to high school graduates from the Crowthers’ hometown of Nyack, and the “Boston College Welles Remy Crowther Service Award,” which is awarded to “the student who consistently demonstrates a commitment to service and who inspires others by their example” (bc.edu). In addition, the fund has also offered to Charitable Gifts to public institutions like libraries and hospitals from Welles’s hometown, September 11th memorial funds, Hurricane Katrina relief, and Massachusetts counseling programs like C.O.R.S.E. and Project Excel. In order to help the Crowthers in their charitable ventures, Boston College has chipped in and annually held the Red Bandanna 5k to support the Crowther’s Charitable Trust.
Even though the times of the hundreds of runners ranged from sixteen minutes to fifty minutes, the Red Bandanna 5k showed the solidarity within the Boston College community. Cheered on at Gasson Hall the whole race by Welles Crowther’s parents, runners included flag-bearing ROTC-athletes, couples running with their infants in strollers, and, of course, the unrelenting Baldwin the Eagle. Especially noteworthy is one runner who completed the 5k despite being 88 years old, which earned him a shout-out from Alison Crowther as she announced the six winners of the race. “Win” may be the wrong word, since the fact that only two of the top three male and female runners even went up to accept prizes make it clear that most of the runners were not here for the $100 gift cards awarded at the end. The ending ceremony put far more focus on Welles’s sister, Paige, who had recently released a book about her brother called “The Man in the Red Bandanna,” meant to help parents teach their kids about the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. With Paige Crowther signing a book memorializing brother right next to a crowd of hundreds of people of every age adorning themselves with a red bandanna, “winning” the five-kilometer race seemed far away from most of the runners’ minds.