30K runners finish annual Tunnel to Towers charity run from Brooklyn to World Trade Center

By Reuven Blau New York Daily News


An entimated 30,000 runners finished the 3.1 mile course

The annual Tunnel to Towers charity run carried an even more somber tone Sunday after the deaths last week of three retired FDNY firefighters who toiled at Ground Zero after 9/11 [sic – more somber for the press, not to the 9/11 community, that has lost recovery workers continuously].

An estimated 30,000 runners finished the 3.1-mile course from Brooklyn to the World Trade Center, the route that hero FDNY Firefighter Stephen Siller took on September 11, 2001, as he raced to the burning buildings.

The 34-year-old, who made the run in full gear, met up with his colleagues at the site and was among the 343 members of the FDNY who died that day.

And 13 years later, the 9/11 death toll continues to rise.

Last Monday, retired Lt. Howard Bischoff, 58, and retired Firefighters Robert Leaver, 56, and Daniel Heglund, 58, died after suffering the effects of 9/11-related diseases.

“It’s scary to think people are still dying from what happened so long ago,” said Kevin Cox, 46, who was joined by his two children — Jenna, 13, and T.J., 10.

It was the first time the Mineola, L.I., family, which has several firefighter relatives, participated in the charity event. “Getting up at 4:30 a.m. was hard, but it was worth it,” Cox said.

Firefighter Daniel Marchica, 31, who is based in Rahway, N.J., finished the race for the fourth time.

“Every year this race gets bigger and bigger,” he said, noting that 31 of his friends and colleagues also participated.

“We come here out of respect and to make sure no one forgets,” he said.

Siller, a father of five from Staten Island, ran to the World Trade Center through the Battery Tunnel — now the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel — in response to the deadly terrorist attacks.

His family established the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation in his honor in 2002 and has raised more than $50 million for many causes, including helping wounded soldiers and Hurricane Sandy victims.

In July, the foundation announced that it was building a high-tech home on Staten Island for U.S. Army Sgt. Bryan Dilberian, a triple amputee.

He was nearly killed when he stepped on an improvised explosive device as he was on patrol in Afghanistan three years ago.

The 2,800-square-foot, three-bedroom home will include a customized bathroom and other special features that can be run by an iPad.

“It’s a great cause,” said Tim Denny, 36, after he finished the race for the first time.

“It’s a little eerie going through the tunnel,” said Denny, of Manhattan.

All told, 92 firefighters have succumbed to a host of illnesses tied to their hours sifting through the debris of the crushed towers in the frantic search to find bodies.

A total of 2,753 [sic, 2,749] people were killed in Al Qaeda’s Trade Center attacks.

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