Nearly 20,000 runners followed in the footsteps of fallen New York City firefighter Stephen Siller on September 26, 2010 in the Tunnel to Towers Run.
The 5k course starts just outside of the entrance to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and ends at Ground Zero to honor Siller’s actions on September 11, 2001. That morning Siller was headed home from a night shift when he heard the emergency call on his scanner. Because traffic was not being allowed through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel he got out of his vehicle strapped on his gear (roughly 70 lbs.) and ran to the World Trade Center towers on foot. The father of five never made it home that day.
The race, now it its ninth year, draws participants from all over the country and around the world. Many firefighters, police officers and military members run in full gear to emulate Siller’s determination. It is an emotional event for all who attend.
Proceeds from the run benefit several charities, one being The Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund which provides scholarships to the children of members of the U.S. military who have been killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty.
“The Tunnel to Towers Run is one of the most inspiring events in America today,” said Freedom Alliance President Tom Kilgannon. “It is a celebration of heroes, a tribute to loved ones, and a commitment to their families. We are grateful to the Siller family for allowing Freedom Alliance to be a part of this wonderful event and for supporting our scholarship fund for the sons and daughters of American heroes.”
Freedom Alliance hosted Scholarship Fund recipient Kalie Walters to three nights in New York City culminating with the 2010 Tunnel to Towers Run. Kalie, 20, is the eldest daughter of Technical Sergeant Howard Walters, USAF, who was killed in a MH-53 helicopter crash in Afghanistan in November 2003. He was assigned to the 20th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida.
After the run, Kalie was escorted on stage by Kilgannon and presented by the Stephen Siller Foundation with the “Freedom Alliance” award in recognition of her family’s sacrifice.
Kalie also met former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his wife and Freedom Alliance 2004 Defender of Freedom award recipient US Navy Seal Steven Toboz. When the ceremonies had concluded, all of the race participants were treated to a free concert by country music singers Montgomery Gentry.
“The weekend was great! We got to do so much, and I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to do all those things, especially the race. It was all so bittersweet,” said Kalie. “Thank you for letting me pursue my dreams, but also my dad’s dream of furthering my education. If it weren’t for you and all the supporters of Freedom Alliance this wouldn’t be possible.”