SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — New York City native, Frank Siller and a group of retired New York Fire Department firefighters walk to the three target sites to raise awareness of 9/11 and money for its victims.
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Among the 2,977 victims in the September 11th attacks, Stephen Siller, Franks brother, tragically lost his life.
Stephen was a 34-year-old New York City firefighter and he was off duty.
“What do firefighters do, what do first responders do all the time they don’t go away from danger, they run right at it they move right towards it and they save people,” Frank said.
And that’s exactly what Stephen and countless others did. He put on 60 pounds of gear and drove his own truck until he got stopped in traffic at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.
He then ran to the towers to save lives.
“He was selfless, he made the ultimate sacrifice, that he gave up his life saving others, that he inspired his older siblings to do good,” Frank said.
Moments later after helping many out of harm’s way, the tower Stephen was in came crashing down.
This hero was one of 412 emergency workers to die that day.
But from ultimate tragedy comes a shining beacon of light in the form of Stephen’s older brother.
Frank Siller set out on a mission it’s called Tunnel to Towers to honor his brother and the other 1st responders who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“We wanna make sure we take care of our military, first responders and those who are willing to die for you and I, many times they do! And when they do the tunnel to towers foundation is going to be there to take care of the families that are left behind,” Frank said.
To raise money, Frank and a group of retired NYFD firefighters and one NYPD officer walk to the three target sites of 9/11 every year.
“We can’t forget what happened 20 years ago I’m walking over 500 miles to make sure that America never forgets,” Frank said.
The 40 plus day walk is treacherous and physically trying. They start at the Pentagon then walk 163 miles to the Shanksville Fire Department.
“To be here at the fire house where they responded when Flight 93 came crashing to the ground because of the heroes on Flight 93 I’m overcome with emotion to be quite frank with you,” Frank said.
The group joined by countless others then walk to the Flight 93 Memorial and lay roses for the victims of Flight 93.
In the end, Siller says, while it’s impossible to forget his brother and the day he died, he knows Stephen would be proud of the sea of first responders who continue fighting to always remember, and never forget.
“I think my brother would be very proud and I think if he had to do it over again knowing he would die he would do it knowing the results that we are helping all these great families,” Frank said.
Frank and the group will reach ground zero on September 11th.