Sunday, June 16, 2019 Medina 74°


Race commemorates fallen first responders who died in 9/11 attacks


More than 400 people, including two dozen local firefighters in full work gear, participated in the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk on Sunday in Medina.

The event honors the memory of Stephen Siller, a New York firefighter, who ran through the 1.7-mile-long Battery Tunnel to the World Trade Center, where he died along with 342 of his fellow firefighters in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

Only seven other cities, in addition to New York, are hosting the Tunnel to Towers races this year.

“We really represent all of Northern Ohio,” said race coordinator Mark Phillips, the director of the Life Support Team at Medina Hospital.

Phillips became involved with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation after running in the first race in New York City in 2002 and helped bring the event to Medina in 2012.

Stephen Siller’s brother, Frank Siller, spoke to the crowd before Sunday’s race.

He said his brother had finished his shift and was on his way to play golf when his scanner told of the first plane hitting the Twin Towers.

After getting his gear from his Brooklyn firehouse, he drove to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, which had been shut down. With 60 pounds of equipment on his back, he ran through the gridlocked vehicles in the tunnel and to the World Trade Center, where he died. He left a wife and five children.

“This is so important,” Frank Siller told the crowd, “that we never forget.”

Two dozen firefighters who participated in Sunday’s event wore their heavy work uniforms and equipment.

WEWS-TV reporter Bob Jones, 42, of Medina Township, was first to cross the finish line, finishing the 3.1-mile race in 17 minutes, 59 seconds.

Second was Medina County Commissioner Adam Friedrick, 47, with a time of 18:14.

Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell, 57, finished 81st, with a time of 32:07.

Each runner in Sunday’s race wore a lanyard with a photograph of one of the first responders who died on Sept. 11.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation now raises money to build custom “smart-technology” homes for the most seriously wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Ten homes have been built and 26 more are under construction.

Contact reporter David Knox at (330) 721-4065 or

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