Brother of FDNY firefighter will walk from Manhattan to Washington, D.C.
Ann Marie Barron, Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
Jun. 4—STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — To commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation will hold a Never Forget Walk from Washington, D.C., to Manhattan with a stop in Shanksville, Pa., in honor of the heroic first responders who gave their all that day.
And while the public is invited to walk part of the course, Frank Siller, 68, the foundation’s chief executive officer, will walk the entire stretch — more than 500 miles — stopping to pay tribute to the first responders at each 9/11 crash site. The walk will go through Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, before coming to an end in lower Manhattan, at Engine Co. 10/Ladder 10, near the World Trade Center.
Siller will complete his journey by walking through the Hugh Carey (Brooklyn-Battery) Tunnel — in the footsteps of his late brother, Stephen, an off-duty firefighter who ran those steps in 2001 and ultimately lost his life as he responded to the World Trade Center attacks.
“Frank wants to honor his brother and the first responders who perished and all the first responders who are still out there today across the country,” said Matt Mahoney, executive vice president of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which was formed in memory of Stephen Siller.
“It’s over 500 miles, and we’re going to be honoring our nation’s fallen heroes along the way,” Mahoney said. “I love that we’re starting on Aug. 1. The anniversary of these attacks should not come and go in one day. Showing up to a place like the Pentagon, a pace like Shanksville, prior to Sept. 11, is something we’re really looking forward to.”
Shanksville is home to the Flight 93 National Memorial, the site where Flight 93 crashed, killing its 40 passengers and crew and thwarting a planned attack on the nation’s capital. The journey will begin at the Pentagon, where 184 people died on 9/11 when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed there.
In addition to the walk, parades are planned in towns across the route, including: Winchester, Va.; Cumberland, Md.; Shanksville, Hershey and Easton, Pa., and Morristown, N.J., culminating with a Sept. 10 Staten Island event that’s still in the works.
“We’ll be doing something visible, something significant and colorful,” Mahoney said.
Siller, of Westerleigh, will cross the Bayonne Bridge to enter Staten Island on Sept. 10, but his exact Staten Island route is still being planned, Mahoney said.
The event will be a fundraiser for the foundation, which to date has spent over $250 million to honor and support first responders and veterans and their families.
“Frank will say, ‘I’m just walking the walk,’ but the money we raise from this goes to our programs to help fallen first responders,” Mahoney said. “Stephen left behind five children. That’s a heavy burden for any family. Cops and firefighters don’t make a lot of money, but they’re the first ones to step up and chip in when a fellow officer or firefighter loses their life.”
Siller has been walking at least 15 miles a day recently in preparation for the event, Mahoney said, guided for the past year and a half by his personal trainer, Shannon Horgan, a Wagner College assistant soccer coach. “He’s in fantastic shape,” Mahoney said. “He’s taking this very seriously. He’s a very athletic guy.”
During his days and weeks of walking the event, he’ll be joined by 9/11 family members, active-duty members, first responders and other supporters. “Great folks will join him along the way,” Mahoney said.
Siller’s plan to visit each crash site and meeting with first responders and their families is the perfect way to honor those lost, Mahoney said.
“We’re such a divided country now, but looking back to 9/11 we were all one,” Mahoney said. “What really brought us through it was that people came together from all over the country. Think about those images of people putting themselves in harm’s way, those guys raising the flag. This whole thing is about tying these three memorials together.”
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