ABINGTON -- After Norton resident Kevin Maloney injured his shoulder during a deployment to Afghanistan with the Massachusetts Army National Guard that ended in March, he expected another long stretch away from his family while being treated at an Indiana base.
But the Jeffrey Coombs Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit named for the Abington father of three who was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, stepped in to help, paying to send Maloney’s wife, Marcy, and their two children to Indiana for an unexpected visit.
“I was actually moved to tears when she told me she was coming out,” said Kevin Maloney, 36, Sunday morning at the annual Jeff Coombs Memorial Road Race and Family Walk in Abington.
Marcy Maloney, 37, said she remained grateful to the foundation and to Christie Coombs, Jeffrey’s widow and the president of the group’s board of directors, for making that visit possible.
“They’re awesome,” she said. “She goes out of her way.”
In an interview near the finish line of the 5K race, which started near the entrance to the Woodsdale Elementary School and drew more than 700 walkers and runners, Christie Coombs said she appreciated the volunteers who have helped the foundation, which has raised more than $350,000 for charitable causes since it was formed two months after the 9/11 attacks.
“It’s really unbelievable,” said Coombs, 51, as music blared from speakers and participants enjoyed food and games on the school grounds.
According to the foundation’s website, the group has funded enrichment programs in public and private schools in Abington, awarded scholarships, and helped families struggling with the death or serious illness of a loved one.
The group has funded vacations for South Shore families who have suffered losses, paid for grief counseling for children, and sent hundreds of care packages to service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, among many other initiatives, the website states.
Jeff Coombs was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11 when it crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center, one week before his 43d birthday. In addition to his wife, he left three children, Matthew, now 24, Meaghan, 22, and Julia, 18.
“It’s one of those good community events that we’ve been able to keep alive,” said Matthew Coombs, who now lives in Hoboken, N.J., but was back for the race.
Runners and walkers wore ribbons bearing the names of 9/11 victims and military personnel who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Christie Coombs urged the crowd after the race to go online and research the biographies of the names on the ribbons.
“These are people who have families just like you,” she said. “And they have families just like you who are missing that person.
“It doesn’t matter if it was yesterday. It doesn’t matter if it was 11 years ago. We still miss that person as much today as we did 11 years ago.”