MANALAPAN — The 17th annual Walk with Joe steps off at Monmouth Battlefield State Park in just a matter of days, and it has evolved from its initial mission as a remembrance for township victims of the September 11th attacks into a major fundraiser for local organizations.

One difference from previous years is that for the 2018 edition, the fundraising has already begun, with an advance donation being made to a food bank before the walk even takes place on Saturday, Sept. 8.

"We will continue to do so after the walk," Michele Cleary, the event's publicity director, said of future money to be raised. "All of the proceeds are donated to local food banks, to child advocacy centers, scholarships for college."

The Walk with Joe is named for Patrick "Joe" Driscoll, a longtime pillar of the community who was among those who thwarted the United Flight 93 hijackers' attempt to target Washington, D.C. But it also memorializes Christopher Gray, who grew up in Manalapan and was working for Cantor Fitzgerald at the World Trade Center when the attacks happened, and Tom McCann, a member of the FDNY who was one of the first responders on the scene that day.

Prior to the walk, an approximate 15-minute ceremony will involve family members of those killed.

For the few hundred people who show up every year, it's a yearly marker to never forget what happened in 2001, but also to keep moving forward.

"It's giving back to the community, organizing this event so that people can attend, so that we all can get together and talk about what happened, talk about our lives and how they continue on, and remember," Cleary said.

Walk with Joe starts at 10 a.m. on the 8th, and prospective participants can either sign up at the event, or in advance at walkwithjoe.com. Check out our previous coverage of the 2016 and 2017 fundraisers.