NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – One of the most memorable stories from September 11, 2001 was of a man’s bravery and heroics.
That man was Stephen Siller.
The firefighter assigned to Brooklyn’s Squad 1 voluntarily raced through the Battery Tunnel on foot, carrying 60 pounds of gear to respond to the emergency at the Twin Towers. Siller lost his life saving others that day, but his legacy lives on through the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
A short time ago, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell spoke to his brother and chairman of the foundation, Frank Siller.
Out of the tragedy, so much good has emerged. Seventeen years later, Frankl Siller says the day is very emotional for his family but they fill the void by giving back, as Stephen did, and giving hope to others who have lost their loved ones.
One of the foundation’s biggest fundraisers is the Tunnel to Towers 5K. About 30,000 runners participate in the race through the Battery Tunnel, raising money for the foundation, which helps the families of men and women killed in the line of duty. Over the years, they have raised more than $85 million.
“I want to keep my brother’s legacy alive forever. And how do you do that? You do that by remembering,” Frank Siller told Burrell. “We do many good things, but the work that we’re doing building specially adapted smart homes for our country’s most catastrophically injured service members. You know what we do for our fallen first responders, police officers, who die in the line of duty and leave young families behind. We take care of their mortgages and we’re doing that all over the United States.”
“Today at 9:59, the same time the South Tower came down where I lost my little brother, we’re giving away (to) a Gold Star Family a home,” he added. “At the exact same time that something so bad happened to our family, we want to do something so good, positive and lasting for a family that had their own terrible loss, because we know we went to war 17 years ago (after) what happened on 9/11, so we have to take care of our veterans. So here it is so important that we do good not just today, but every day.”
Frank Siller also said that over the years, the foundation has been able to help purchase more than 30 homes for families across the country.