As part of the Metro Challenge, we selected three New Yorkers out of the more than 100 who applied to train and compete in the first-ever Civilian Military Combine, a race and obstacle course to be held the weekend of Sept. 11. The combine is a seven-mile mountain run through the Pocono Mountains, with a military obstacle course positioned at every mile marker. We asked each Metro Challenge winner: Why are you doing this?


Esther Carpenter

Carpenter currently works for the Parks Department, but dreams of one day becoming a police officer.


Age: 26

Height: 5 feet 6 inches

Weight: 125 pounds


In her words: “I’ll be participating in support of the FDNY Burn Center. This particular charity is so important to me and my family because my brother, Joseph Carpenter, is a FDNY firefighter in Brooklyn. I hope my CMC effort will in some way honor the 9/11 victims and their families, and reflect the respect I have for the 9/11 rescue and support teams.”


Sean Smith

Smith worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on 9/11. He lost 17 friends and family

members, including his closest cousin, that day.

Age: 35

Height: 5 feet 9 inches

Weight: 185 pounds

In his words: “I’ll be fundraising for the Semper Fi Fund, in honor of my father, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Hope and Heroes Children’s Cancer Fund. I run in honor of the more than 17 people I knew that died on 9/11, and my father, a Marine, who died of cancer when I was a senior in high school.”

Robert Hawthorn

Hawthorn is a recent Fordham University graduate who is honoring a family friend, Chris Wodenshek, who died while working at Cantor Fitzgerald on Sept. 11, 2001.

Age: 23

Height: 6 feet 1 inch

Weight: 175 pounds

In his words: “I’m training in order to bring awareness to the many obstacles that our servicemen and women have to endure once they return home. I believe it is the responsibly of the American people to stand together and give back to those who have given so much for our freedom.”