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Tunnel to Towers Run Draws Thousands Honoring 9/11 First Responders

By Paul Lomax | September 30, 2012 2:37pm

LOWER MANHATTAN — Thousands of runners hit the streets Sunday to honor 9/11 first responders in the 11th annual Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run.

The 5K run traces the steps Siller took — from his firehouse in Park Slope, Brooklyn, through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, to the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan — on Sept. 11, 2001.

The event also honors the 343 firefighters who perished on 9/11 as well as the NYPD police officers and EMTs who lost their lives.

Bill Jenkins, 34, a volunteer firefighter, ran for a fellow Long Islander who died in the twin towers that day.

"This is the first time I've ran, and I did it in memory of both Stephen Siller and also Terry Farrell...who lost his life trying to save people on 9/11," Jenkins said after the race.

Farrell was a firefighter for the FDNY's Rescue 4 and chief of the Dix Hills Volunteer Fire Department in Long Island.

The charity event has thus far raised more than $15 million for programs such as Building for America's Bravest, the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund and the Katrina Children's Relief Fund, among other causes.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and actor John Turturro were in attendance, joining members of the NYPD, FDNY and war veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and World War II.

One veteran, U.S. Marine Corporal Justin Gaertner, 23, lost both his legs during a tour in Afghanistan in 2010. That didn't stop the double amputee, who runs on prosthetic legs, from completing the race.

"I did this for my country, for the Corp, and for New York City," Gaertner, of Tampa, Florida, said. "And I'll be back again next year."