For the previous 19 years, Frank Siller has honored his brother, Stephen Siller, by retracing the fateful path he took on 9/11 — when the 34-year-old FDNY firefighter raced on foot by the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and straight to the attacked World Commerce Middle, the place he would in the end lose his life.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run & Stroll, to be held this 12 months on Oct. 10, has change into one of the vital common 5K races within the nation, with about 30,000 individuals collaborating in 2019.
However this 12 months, on the twentieth anniversary of the assaults, Frank needed to do one thing much more particular.
Final week, the retired Staten Island entrepreneur set off from Washington, DC — the place one of many planes hit the Pentagon — to Shanksville, Penn., the place one other of the hijacked jets crashed right into a subject. He’ll ultimately stroll all the way in which to Floor Zero in Decrease Manhattan, trekking practically 540 miles over the course of six weeks.
“I didn’t know what number of miles it was and I didn’t care. It might have been 2,000 miles — it wouldn’t have made a distinction. It was simply the precise factor to do,” mentioned Siller, who’s CEO of the charitable Tunnel to Towers Basis, created to honor Stephen’s legacy. “The whole lot the muse does has to have which means — and this has which means.”
Stephen, then 34, had simply left his shift at Brooklyn’s Squad 1 and was on the way in which to golf together with his brothers when he heard the information of the assault. The married father-of-five drove to the Brooklyn entrance of the tunnel and, upon discovering it closed to site visitors, strapped on 60 kilos of drugs and walked the three-plus miles to the WTC.
“Stephen died the way in which he lived — for others,” Frank advised The Submit.
The inspiration helps repay the mortgages of households of fallen regulation enforcement officers and firefighters, and affords “good houses” for injured service members and first responders.
This 12 months’s “By no means Overlook Stroll: Following the Footsteps of the Fallen” initiative began with a wreath-laying ceremony on the Pentagon on Aug. 1, adopted by a stroll to Arlington Hearth Station 5, one of many hearth homes that responded to the Pentagon on 9/11.
Frank has been coaching for this practically each day for 15 months. He’s coated some 6,000 miles over the previous 12 months, mountaineering all through Maryland, Pennsylvania, the Catskills and SI’s Clove Lakes Park.
He’s additionally labored with a coach, former professional soccer participant, Shannon Horgan, whose personal father was a primary responder on 9/11. “He appears to be like at Frank like a star,” Horgan mentioned of her dad.
Horgan, 25, is becoming a member of Frank for the whole stroll and mentioned that, to this point, “It’s been nothing in need of inspiring. We’ve had some wounded warriors and widows who’ve spoken [at stops] about their tales.”
Frank will probably be joined at varied factors alongside the way in which by his spouse, siblings, youngsters and grandkids, in addition to the households of fallen 9/11 first responders.
He wore Stephen’s Squad 1 shirt on the kickoff and mentioned that he has “lots of of shirts from completely different hearth corporations to put on.
Frank is aware of the challenges that lie earlier than him. “Mentally I really feel very robust, however I do know it’s going to be emotional,” he mentioned. “I’ve lots of people praying for me. I can’t fail.”