By Rob Bailey Staten Island Advance
STATEN ISLAND, NY — Frank Siller is hoping that the Emmy Awards ceremony on March 30 will be another impressive benchmark in the posthumous life of his brother, fallen 9/11 firefighter Stephen Siller.
WCBS-TV’s “Tunnel to Towers Special” is once again nominated in the “Best Society Concerns Show” category (it took home the gold last year) for its coverage of the annual run dedicated to military and first responders who”make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country.”
“We are truly blessed that WCBS-TV honors our annual run by televising it all around the country,” says Frank, chairman of the 12-year-old Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
“And the fact that a program about a run — which draws 30,000 people in honor of my brother and first responders — is so outstanding the Emmys have singled it out for recognition, is extremely gratifying.”
Todd Ehrlich, the producer-writer behind the nominated program, said T2T’s ongoing mission to to [sic] build “smart” homes for catastrophically injured military as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated his work.
“The work of the foundation makes my job very easy to produce compelling television,” says Ehrlich. “I consider myself very lucky to be able to work with such an amazing organization.”
Of course, at the heart of all the run is the personal story of Stephen Siller, the off-duty West Brighton firefighter and father of five who ran through the tunnel to get to the towers on September 11, 2001, and who died once he got there.
He was on the Gowanus Expressway heading for the Verrazano Bridge and a golf date at LaTourette when his FDNY scanner picked up word that a plane had crashed into Tower Two.
The 34-year-old turned his car around but found the Battery Tunnel blocked to vehicular traffic: So he strapped 60 pounds of gear onto his back and headed out on foot. His was one of the thousands of entirely selfless acts of that day that have been seared into America’s collective memory.
“The T2T Run & Walk is one of the most meaningful community events that we have the privilege of broadcasting each year,” says Peter Dunn, who oversees 29 broadcast affiliates nationwide as the president of CBS Television Stations.
“This year’s Emmy nomination provides another reminder of just how special this event is and all the good that comes from honoring the memory of Stephen Siller and all of the brave first responders in the tri-state area.”
Featured prominently in the special were interviews with FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who commented on the success of the T2T Run: “It is both sad and uplifting what the Siller family has done.”
Plus: Footage of the 30,000 who participated in the annual run — including thousands of West Point cadets who ran in formation; profiles of catastrophically injured military heroes who received “smart homes” built by the T2T Foundation; and service members who participated in a T2T Run in Afghanistan.
Also highlighted was Ned Wallace, president of Wallace Air Cargo Group, who donated $450,000 toward the building of a “smart” home after seeing a T2T Run broadcast on the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles.