'Tunnel to Towers Run' for 9/11 Firefighters A Go Despite Truck Fire That Destroyed Event Materials

NY Daily News - September 27, 2009

by Ryan Mclendon AND Wil Cruz

The race will go on.

A truck fire destroyed the T-shirts and other materials for the "Tunnel to Towers Run" honoring 9/11 firefighters - but that won't stop Sunday's annual event.

"It was upsetting when we first heard about it," said Frank Siller, 56, brother of Firefighter Stephen Siller, whose determination and bravery inspired the race. "But the fire is nothing compared to what has happened to many people's lives, most certainly ours. We'll overcome this."

The 5K run follows the path Siller took through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to get to Ground Zero on his day off on Sept. 11, 2001.

A UPS truck carrying 18,000 shirts, racing bibs and other materials caught fire Friday night on Staten Island's West Shore Expressway. Fire officials said the blaze was not suspicious and no one was injured, but it left race organizers scrambling to recoup.

Siller said the Hilton Garden Inn of Staten Island has volunteered to wash the T-shirts that weren't completely burned.

He plans to offer the singed shirts to runners, knowing that participants will wear them in the true spirit of the race.

"I guarantee everyone will take a burnt one before they take a good one," he said.

Sherry Laue of Manhattan's Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and and Airmen's Club, which has 25 people running, said the T-shirt would have been a wonderful keepsake. "But we're still going to be proud," she said.