Stephen Siller was supposed to be golfing with his brothers the day that his life ended. He had just finished his overnight shift and was on route home when he heard on his scanner about the World Trade Center. He turned around and headed for danger.
Stephen was a firefighter.
Stephen found out at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel that traffic wasn't allowed to enter. That didn't deter him, his heavy gear strapped to his back, ran along the catwalk towards the flames. He was picked up by a fire crew at the end of the catwalk. He was dropped off at West Street and Liberty, near Ground Zero.
His family believes that he tried to find his crew, Squad Co. 1 when he raced into the Towers. He never made it home, neither did the other fire fighters from the squad.
Stephen Siller left behind a wife and five children in Staten Island.
His older brother Russell wanted to find the best way to memorialize Stephen's sacrifice. At first the family thought perhaps a golf event or a dinner. Russell Siller credits a friend of Stephen's for the final idea.
"A friend of Stephen's suggested we hold a run through the Battery Tunnel in his honor, and in memory of all those heroes who displayed such bravery on September 11. Because this idea was a reflection of Stephen's spirit, we knew right away that it was perfect. All the pieces began to fall into place, and we realized what could be a more fitting than a run through the tunnel, the very spot where Stephen embarked on his heroic journey."
Tunnel To Towers
Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5k Run/Walk
That run, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K Run/Walk, has been held for 10 years raising over $7.5 million for military causes, burn victims, the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund, orphans, Katrina relief, building homes for heroes and other causes.
While the run was named for Stephen it was created to honour all of the 343 firefighters that perished on September 11, 2001.
"This event began as a way to honor Stephen and his firefighter brothers," said Frank Siller, one of Stephen's siblings and a coordinator for the run. "Over the years, through an influx of volunteers, donations and interest, it has continued to grow and evolve. It is now, without question, the one annual event that not only celebrates the lives of everyone who was lost that day, but provides a forum for remembrance of the past and a life-affirming event for the future."
On Sunday over 25,000 people will be running in honour of Stephen and his firefighter brothers across the world. Those in New York City will approach the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel at 9:30 a.m. sharp just as Stephen did 10 years ago. When the runners have crossed the finish line Dennis Miller, John Turturro, and former NYC Mayor, Rudy Giuliani will be there to share their thoughts on the 10 year anniversary.
After the run there will be a free concert by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band. Sinise played "Lieutenant Dan" in the film "Forrest Gump."
The event will culminate in a carnival-like celebration, including musical acts, free refreshments, performance artists, and activities for kids and more.