The annual Tunnel to Towers 5K run and walk looked very different this year. There were not the thousands of runners, walkers, and spectators as COVID-19 forced the event to go virtual. But firefighter Stephen Siller's family and members of the MTA still gathered in person to retrace Siller’s final steps through the Battery Tunnel.
"Our first responsibility is to make sure we never forget and that's what we are doing here today, to make sure we never forget the sacrifice that was made 19 years ago, 2001,“ said Frank Siller, older brother to Stephen Siller and CEO of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
At 34-years-old, Stephen Siller was assigned to Brooklyn Squad 1. According to the foundation, he was off-duty when he learned a plane had hit the north tower of the World Trade Center the morning of September 11. But he rushed to help, driving to the Battery Tunnel, he found it shutdown to traffic. He strapped on 60 pounds of gear and took off by foot. He made the ultimate sacrifice that day.
"For me personally, the loss is just as great today as it was 19 years ago. It's different, it's different as so much time has gone on, but you never get over, you just learn to live with it,” Frank Siller said.
Three members of Stephen Siller's family joined members of the MTA in a walk through the Battery Tunnel that ended on the Manhattan side.
"It was different but it was beautiful. It was absolutely beautiful,” Siller said. "For me personally it was very intimate. Going through there, my thoughts are about my brother and what he did."
Frank Siller said they honor his brother’s memory every day by helping veterans, service members and their families in times of need through the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, an organization that has raised millions of dollars.
"The best way to live with it is to do something for somebody else and who better than to do for than the best of America,” Frank Siller said.