Thousands Honor Fallen Firefighter In Tunnel To Towers Run

CBS 2 - September 25, 2011

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Thousands are retracing the steps of hero firefighter Stephen Siller during the annual Tunnel to Towers Run on Sunday morning.

More than 10 years, when Siller heard about the fires at the World Trade Center, he raced through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, running with more than 65 pounds of gear on his back.

Siller, like many that frightful day in September, died trying to rescue others.

"People knew he left behind a beautiful wife and five children and they were very touched by that," Stephen brother's Russell said. "Then we, his siblings, started this foundation and we had no idea it would grow to a point to where we're standing today in this great big space where so many people are expected."

Since then, thousands of participants have taken part in the annual run along with an annual appreciation dinner, which took place on Saturday night.

In the first year of the race, about 3,000 participated, but organizers are expecting 25,000 this year. The Siller family reached out to various military agencies as well, which Siller says has helped the race grow to such a big event. In addition to firefighters, more than 30 marines will be running as part of Team Semper Fi.

"Every year the race gets bigger and bigger," Stephen's cousin John Hodge said. "And we keep going a little farther away, but this is our final spot."

The runners will gather at the IKEA parking lot, which is the location of the staging area, and race through the same route that Siller took on the day he died.

The race starts at 9:30 a.m. and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel will be closed until 3 p.m.