The following is an entry from #JacksonMI based Sergeant with the Blackman-Leoni Dept of Public Safety Jan Ganzel:
The Tunnel to Towers 5K in Jackson is not your typical 5k. The first thing you see is one of the largest American Flags, one has ever seen, waving proudly between two of Jackson County’s tallest Fire trucks! Then all of the Fireman and the faces, the faces of men and women walking and running to remember….
On Sept 11, 2001 our country experienced a tragedy that should never be forgotten. Over 3000 heroes died that day. These people lost their lives just going about their daily routine. 404 of them were first responders doing what they do, trying to help people. Among those was Stephen Siller.
Stephen Siller was a Firefighter with FDNY and on that fateful morning, was on his way home to go meet with his brothers. When news of the first plane hitting the Trade Center reached him, Stephen turned his truck around, called his family to say he was going back to work, and headed for Manhattan. He grabbed his fire gear (about 75lbs) and made it the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, leading into Manhattan. The tunnel was closed for security reasons. Not letting that get in his way, Stephen put his gear on, and ran through the Tunnel into downtown Manhattan (almost 3.5 miles). He was last seen reuniting with his crew and entering the Trade Center. He was never seen again.
Stephen had everything to live for; a great wife, five wonderful children, a devoted extended family, and friends. Stephen’s parents were lay Franciscans and he grew up under the guiding philosophy of St. Francis of Assisi, whose encouraging and inspirational phrase “while we have time, let us do good” were words that Stephen lived by. Stephen’s life and heroic death serve as a reminder to us all to live life to the fullest and to spend our time here on earth doing good – this is his legacy.
As you run or walk this course, you will be joined by first responders from all over, including many firefighters, wearing their gear, to honor and remember what occurred on Sept 11, 2001. You will pass by pictures of all of the First Responders that fell that day. There is even a piece of steel from the World Trade Center along the course, where you may see Firefighters drop to one knee and pay homage to their fallen brothers and sisters.
This isn’t your typical 5K, this is an experience, one that everyone should witness.
Jan Ganzel Jackson resident and Native New Yorker.
Sergeant with the Blackman-Leoni Dept of Public Safety