Tunnel Of Love: Run Honors 9/11 Heroes

NY Daily News - September 28, 2009

by Mark Lebetkin

Neither rain nor fire could keep runners from paying tribute to Sept. 11 heroes at the annual Tunnel to Towers Run on Sunday.

Two days after a truck carrying thousands of shirts for the race went up in flames, some 25,000 racers from all over the world braved drenching downpours during the eighth annual charity event.

The run through the Battery Tunnel retraces the steps of Firefighter Stephen Siller, who strapped on his gear - on his day off - and heroically sprinted to Ground Zero after the terror attacks on Sept. 11. He died at the twin towers that day.

"I'm so moved," said Siller's sister Mary Scullin of Staten Island. "In this weather, they all came out."

The race, which benefits burn victims and foster children, is a Siller family affair.

Siller's widow, Sally Siller, led off the race in her late husband's uniform. Two of his five children, Olivia, 11, and Genevieve, 13, were official bell ringers at the finish line.

Despite a celebratory mood at the finish, the somber reason for the run was never far from anyone's mind.

Firefighter Matt Conroy of Engine Co. 222 in Brooklyn ran as a personal tribute to Siller.

"He did something most people would never do," said Conroy, 28.

"You see all the banners, you see all the flags," he said. "It's very...."

Conroy paused to gather himself.

"Emotional," finished a nearby firefighter.

"I can think of easier things to do on a Sunday," added Conroy. "For me, it's a commemoration. For [Siller], he was running into the unknown and didn't hesitate one bit."