By Cindy Hsu | CBS New York | NewYork.cbslocal.com| September 22, 2011
NEW YORK (CBS 2) — On Thursday more than 30 injured Marines arrived in New York City for this weekend’s Tunnel To Towers Run. They’re here to honor the memory of Firefighter Stephen Siller, and to join the thousands who will be re-tracing his steps.
The first members of Team Semper Fi arrived earlier in the day. They’re staying just steps away from the World Trade Center site and know all about sacrifice first hand.
Corporal Gabriel Martinez lost both legs in Afghanistan less than a year ago.
“For everybody that’s here in New York, that was here during that devastating day, my heart goes out to them and I just want them to know that I went out there and I sacrificed all I could on their behalf,” Cpl. Martinez told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu.
The 36 team members that will participate on Sunday say it’s an honor to take part in Tunnel To Towers, taking the same path as hero firefighter Siller.
“Just to retrace his steps to really show that we support not only him but all the firefighters, and policemen and just regular Americans who stepped up to the plate and went in there and tried to save other that they didn’t even know,” Lance Cpl. Brandon Pelletier said.
The team is made up of nearly 300 injured athletes and they compete all across the country. They’ve also raised millions of dollars for injured service members and their families.
“We also provide financial assistance for specially adapted housing, specially adapted vehicles. The families face tremendous difficulties, financial burdens when their service members are in the hospital for months at a time, even more than a year sometimes,” said Kirt Rebello of The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.
Sergeant Lee Randles ran his first triathlon last year and his service dog will be running with him this weekend.
“Her name is ‘Dolly.’ We call her the ‘Dolly Lama,’” Sgt. Randles said. “She helps motivate me. She helps keep me going.”
“My favorite quote is ‘tough times don’t last but tough Marines do,’ and that hits the nail on the head. And it’s not just Marines, it’s anybody,” Cpl. Martinez said.
And these heroes say they’re running for everyone.
CBS 2 is a proud sponsor of Tunnel to Towers. The race will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. CBS 2 will have a special presentation of the race, beginning at 11 a.m.