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Tunnel 2 Towers honors fallen 9/11 firefighters

by Margaret Stewart - Managing Editor
Tue, Oct 8th 2019 08:00 pm
Brockport hosted the Tunel to Towers 5K race this year. Local firefighters, police officers and various members of organizations across campus such as ROTC and BSG joined the run/ walk to raise money for the families of the firefighters lost in 9/11.
Brockport hosted the Tunel to Towers 5K race this year. Local firefighters, police officers and various members of organizations across campus such as ROTC and BSG joined the run/ walk to raise money for the families of the firefighters lost in 9/11.

The Tunnel 2 Towers 5K is an annual nationwide event honoring the memory of the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. 

A professor in the Department of Kinesiology Michele Myers brought this run to Brockport for the first time on Sunday, Oct. 6.

“I’m from Seaford which is on Long Island and my hometown lost five in 911 so I always wanted to do something to remember those hometown heroes,” Myers said.

Aware the event was almost a full month after the annual anniversary of the tragic attacks, Myers explained that many people already have prior obligations and plans to honor the heroes of 9/11.

The foundation wants us to do it as close to 911 as possible, but we found this community, the Rochester area community, remembers 9/11 and do so many events to memorialize 9/11,” Myers explained. “The fire departments and police departments are being stretched in so many different places, so that was one of the reasons to move the date.”

Myers also felt it was important for the students attending The College at Brockport to be involved.

“We wanted students to be involved,” Myers said. “We really feel students need to know about this, it’s educating them on the history of our nation. Getting the students to participate was huge. That’s why we wanted to put it into October and not at the beginning of the school year.”

Community member Andrew Nadeau won the entire race with a final time of 18:05. Nadeau said it was inspired by his friends to participate in the competition. 

“There’s this incentive when you’re running with your friends,” Nadeau said. “It’s good to see everyone out here, and it’s nice to live in a city where people come out for this stuff.”

In the past, Myers attempted to host the event in Durand Eastman Park in the city of Rochester, New York. 

“We were at doing the event for three years, but we didn’t see any spikes in our participation over those three years,” Myers said. “We were about 100 participants consistently.”

Myers was excited and emotional to bring the race to Brockport.

“I was a student at Brockport,” Myers said. “When 9/11 happened I had just moved up to Western New York from Seaford in August of 2001. So bringing the run to Brockport, being on staff here, it is really heartfelt for me to be able to do that.”

It also helped that within its first year, the Tunnel 2 Towers 5K had 280 participants show up and a grand total of 352 registraints. 

Myers wanted to ensure the event was welcoming to everyone who wanted to come. To say she succeeded is an understatement, the run was truly a community event. Participants of all ages were in attendance walking, running and riding their way to the finish line.

Kids and firefighters alike donned firefighting apparel in order to show their support. Former-Brockport Fire Chief Laurence C. Vaughen is hopeful for Brockport’s volunteer fire program.

“We average about 85 volunteers,” Vaughen said. “They run roughly 900 calls a year. When you get into that big commitment, you’re sacrificing family.”

Reflecting back on his 52-year career as a volunteer fireman, Vaughen understands the sacrifices but wouldn’t have it any other way.

“My father was a volunteer here [in Brockport],” Vaughen said. “And I just couldn’t wait to turn 18 and join. It lead to a career which I was really happy with.”

The Tunnel 2 Tower 5K is in support of the Stephen Siller Foundation. The Stephen Siller Foundation was established in remembrance of Siller, 34, who was a firefighter, FDNY, Brooklyn Squad 1.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Siller was supposed to be golfing with his brothers. However, when he heard about the World Trade Center attack he turned back to go retrieve his fire gear to help the victims.

According to tunnel2towers.org. “He drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security purposes. Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped 60 lbs. of gear to his back, and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers where he died.”

Myers explained the foundation helps to care for the families of first responders and military veterans in addition to those men and women who put their lives on the line every day keeping us safe. 

According to Myers, programs like the Gold Star Family Home Program and the Smart Home Program, the foundation has put more than $125 million back into the community since its inception in 2002 and 93% of what they bring in, goes back out.

The event would not have been possible without all of the volunteers, the Brockport Student Government, Phi Epsilon Kappa and the KSSPE and Athletic Departments.

Photo of the Week

Taken by Vinny Croce:
Staff Photographer

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