By New York CBS | Newyork.cbslocal.com | September 25, 2011
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Thousands of runners retraced the steps of hero firefighter Stephen Siller during the annual Tunnel to Towers Run Sunday morning.
Nearly 30,000 people followed in Siller’s footsteps, including New York City Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano and a dozen wounded soldiers.
“We were fortunate enough to run with Todd Nicely, who is a quadruple amputee,” said Cassano. “If that doesn’t get the emotional juices flowing, nothing will ever in your life.”
Nicely lost his limbs in Afghanistan, but not his spirit.
“I really just do it for me and then people see it and I guess it inspires them,” Nicely said.
The race honors Siller, who 10 years ago heard about the fires at the World Trade Center and through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, running with more than 65 pounds of gear on his back.
Siller, like many that frightful day in September, died trying to rescue others.
“People knew he left behind a beautiful wife and five children and they were very touched by that,” Stephen brother’s Russell said. “Then we, his siblings, started this foundation and we had no idea it would grow to a point to where we’re standing today in this great big space where so many people are expected.”
Since then, thousands of participants have taken part in the annual run along with an annual appreciation dinner, which took place on Saturday night.
The Siller family reached out to various military agencies as well, which Russell Siller says has helped the race grow to such a big event. More than 30 Marines ran as part of Team Semper Fi.
“Every year the race gets bigger and bigger,” Stephen’s cousin John Hodge said. “And we keep going a little farther away, but this is our final spot.”
The runners gather at the IKEA parking lot, which is the location of the staging area, and raced through the same route that Siller took on the day he died. Throughout the race, CBS 2 spoke with former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, actor Gary Sinise and comedian Dennis Miller.
The race started at 9:30 a.m. but the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel remained closed until 3 p.m.