On the morning of September 11, 2001, firefighter Stephen Siller was ending his shift at his firehouse in Park Slope. When he heard the news of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center, he grabbed his gear and drove his truck toward the site, only to be stopped at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, which had been closed.
With all his gear on his back, Siller ran through the tunnel toward Manhattan, the opposite direction many of us would have chosen to run. After reaching the World Trade Center site, he would later lose his life helping others.
During the past 14 years, the 5K that commemorates Siller’s act of courage has not only grown to more than 30,000 runners and walkers, but the organization that bears his name has become a multimillion-dollar supporter of wounded warriors and first responders.
The power of the Tunnel to Towers run is not only the catharsis it gives New York City once a year. Siller’s act inspired his loved ones to create a foundation that continuously gives back to those that defend our cities, states, and country every single day.
The foundation’s Building for America’s Bravest program builds homes for injured service members, each designed to meet the needs of that person’s injuries (you can see more about the adaptable technology here). By the end of this year, 37 of these smart homes will have broken ground or been completed.
Firefighters for America’s Bravest is an organization of firefighters that fundraise for the foundation. Golf Fore America’s Bravest is a Veteran’s Day golf tournament that raises money for the foundation, as well. This is all in addition to the foundation’s run/walk series, now holding Tunnel to Towers runs in nine cities.The Tunnel to Towers Foundation has also helped fund a home for orphaned children on Staten Island (Siller lost both of his parents at a young age), and is helping to relocate a Haitian orphanage after that country’s severe earthquake a few years ago. The foundation provides relief to victims of Superstorm Sandy, too.
All of these acts of kindness and humanity stem from one man’s act of courage. While all of us may not have the same fortitude, we can use Siller’s example as a way to help where we can, each day.
Thank you to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation for giving us the opportunity to always remember.