Runners from around the world paid tribute to the first responders who died in the 9-11 terror attacks by sprinting from Red Hook to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel at the 15th annual Tunnel to Towers run on Sept. 25.
The event traces the route that Park Slope firefighter Stephen Siller ran in 2001 when he dashed through the tunnel to the falling Twin Towers wearing 60 pounds of gear, and the international turnout showed the world is still thinking about heroes like Siller who died that day, said one of his relatives.
“Our takeaway is that not only is our mission ‘Never forget,’ but that’s a sentiment shared by people all over the world,” said his cousin Catherine Christman.
This year’s run was the largest turnout yet, with more than 30,000 people retracing Siller’s steps — many of them firefighters in their heavy gear — according to Christman.
Together, they raised $2 million dollars for the Siller Foundation that will go towards programs designed to help those who protect the country, such as Building for America’s Bravest, a program that constructs high-tech homes for soldiers returning from war with serious injuries.
The record turnout included families of the men and women who died in the attack, showing how important the annual run is to people who are working through losing their loved ones, said Christman.
“It’s very humbling because we realize that this run means so much to so many people and gives them an outlet for their grief,” she said.
Just 2,500 people showed up to the first run 15 years ago, but Christman said that she and her family had always dreamed that it would grow to be a major event that would benefit so many people.
“Obviously the family continues to mourn the loss but we celebrate the fact that from his death so many good things have happened as well,” she said. “It’s visible proof that his life was meaningful, and the lives of other first responders were meaningful too.”