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Registration open for Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk

By Staff | Aug 29, 2019

The community has the opportunity to run for a cause next month at Lakes Regional Park.

The 5K run supports the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which was created by his family. Lauren Taylor, the organizer of the 2019 Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk Fort Myers, said Siller was a New York City firefighter who got off duty right before the planes flew into the Twin Towers. He saw it happen and started heading towards what is now known as Ground Zero.

Instead of going golfing with his brothers and, with the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel being closed for security, he parked his car, strapped 60 pounds of gear to his back, and ran from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the Twin Towers.

“He lost his life trying to rescue people. That is why the run is a 5K. It’s basically 3.1 miles from the Brooklyn Tunnel to the Tower,” Taylor said.

The Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk is held all throughout the United States, with one locally in Fort Myers, at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at Lakes Regional Park, 7330 Gladiolus Drive.

Taylor said the event came to Fort Myers because of the Smart Home Program, a program that builds mortgage- free homes for the most severely injured service members.

“There was one being built in Cape Coral for Corey Kent. My parents own Taylor Carpet One. We were one of the partners with the foundation to do the flooring with the Smart Home. My parents were involved to put in the floor,” she said.

With Taylor being an avid runner it only made sense to bring the 5K to the area.

“It will be the fourth year doing it,” she said. “We’ve had anywhere from 250 to 300 (participants). This year we hope to have more than that.”

Those interested in participating can register at www.tunnel2towers.org. Registration is $30; $40 the day of the event. The race will take place within Lakes Park, all on the trails.

“This year we are partnering with the Fort Myers Track Club. They are timing the run and making sure the course is 3.1 miles,” Taylor said.

The event will feature a number of vendors who will be set up handing out little goodies for the participants. There also will be a banner with all the names of the firefighters and police officers who died on 9/11 hung. Taylor said it’s awesome to see so many people pay their respects.

“The firefighters run in their gear. They dress up in their whole outfit with their tank. It’s pretty cool to see them cross the finish line,” she said.

The money raised during the event will go to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. The money is used locally when an emergency responder dies in the line of duty or there is a triple, or quad amputee who qualifies for a Smart Home.

Currently there is no one who qualifies for this service in the area. She said the foundation provided funds when a house was built for Kent in Cape Coral.

She enjoys putting on the race because she can share Siller’s story.

“It’s nice to spread the word,” Taylor said. “They don’t get enough appreciation for what they do daily for us to keep us all protected.”

The Tunnel to Towers 5K Race & Walk is held as close to 9/11 as possible. There is a big race in New York that is held every year. Taylor said it is held the last weekend of September, attracting between 20,000 to 30,000 runners for the 5K.

“I’ve run it twice. You have chills the whole time. You run through the Brooklyn Tunnel. There are thousands of firefighters that wear their gear that run through it,” she said, adding that there are New York City fire cadets and West Point who line the road. “Everyone is wearing a banner of the fire and police that died in 9/11. It’s a pretty incredible event.”