Summerville man crosses bridge to promote firefighter safety, health

David Moore of Summerville completed the Cooper River Bridge Run wearing his firefighter outfit. (Grace Raynor/Staff)

Of the 35,902 racers who registered for the 39th annual Cooper River Bridge Run on Saturday, David Moore is almost certain he was the only one hoping for rain. Moore, a firefighter of 30 years, knew that rain signified a break from the heat — a luxury he was hoping he’d come across, considering he was completing the 6.2-mile race in his full fire suit.

“I’m about 110 degrees inside the suit right now, so it’s difficult to do,” Moore, 49, said at the finish line as sweat dripped off his forehead and a group of supporters loudly applauded him. “I ran until the four-mile mark and then it was walk, run, walk, run. It was just too hot.”

The Summerville resident has been running the race since 2014. Dressing up and crossing the finish line in the outfit is his way of promoting firefighter safety and health. On Saturday, he finished in 1:18:54.

“Forty five percent of all firefighters that die in the line of duty is cardiac — so those are preventable,” Moore said. “So you look at it: We lose 100 firefighters a year, 44 of them we can eliminate with a little bit of health and fitness. I just try to get out here and motivate others, whether they’re firefighters or not.”

A year after being inched out at the finish line, missing first place by just a matter of feet, James Senbeta got the redemption he was looking for Saturday.

Senbeta cruised to the finish line of the wheelchair race first, completing the course almost four full minutes before the second-place finisher.

Senbeta said he knew by the 1-kilometer mark that his first Charleston victory was in sight.

“Last year, it was a little more of a tactical race since we were neck and neck. So it was like who would give it up at the end,” said Senbeta, 29, of Savoy, Illinois. “This year was more like, ‘I’m out by myself, so I might as well just go for it.’ ”

Leonard Postlewait was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in May 2012. Now, four years in remission from his Stage 4 cancer, Postlewait has celebrated being healthy again the same way for three years — by running the Cooper River Bridge Run.

Postelwait finished the race in a personal best 1:08:02, running in the 45-49 division for males. He sported his red “Cancer Survivor” T-shirt and already has plans to run the race again.

“As long as I’m alive,” he smiled.

The Cooper River Bridge Run plays host to a number of eccentric costumes every year, and Saturday was no exception.

There was a leprechaun, a duo dressed as Batman and Superman, a group of butterflies and two MUSC students dressed up as Beauty and the Beast characters, among others.

But perhaps the loudest outfit of the day belonged to Jamie Downs, dressed as Paul Stanley from KISS. Downs donned a black wig, white face paint and bright red lipstick while passing out guitar picks to people who came up for photos. In addition to being a KISS fan for their music, he also likes the group for its support of the Wounded Warrior Project.

“It’s special to me on a number of levels. My grandfather was a Navy commander ... my dad was Navy, sonar and subs,” he said. “This is my little way of respecting those who sacrificed so that we could go out and have a great time doing things like this.”

Grace is the Post and Courier's Clemson reporter. She graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in journalism.