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Tunnel to Towers 5K honors fallen heroes, retracing FDNY Firefighter Stephen Siller's final steps on 9/11

Annual Tunnel to Towers 5K run and walk returns to Manhattan
Annual Tunnel to Towers 5K run and walk returns to Manhattan 02:39

NEW YORK -- The annual Tunnel to Towers 5K run and walk returned Sunday, retracing the final steps hero FDNY Firefighter Stephen Siller took on the morning of 9/11. 

As CBS2's Christina Fan reported, some ran, some walked, but they were all united by a common purpose -- remembering the heroism and lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. 

For six years, Stella Herold and her family have been flying in from Arizona for the event, carrying with them the names and photos of those they lost. 

"This is his brother. These are some of the people we know -- classmates, friends, family friends," she said. 

"It was a terrible tragedy, but a beautiful thing came out of it. I like the spirit this run creates," John Herold added. 

More than 35,000 people signed up for the 5k this year, starting the race from the entrance to the Hugh Carey Tunnel into Lower Manhattan, retracing Siller's final steps.

"He got a call on his radio scanner that the towers were hit. He had a call of duty, went back to his firehouse, got his gear," said his brother and Tunnel to Towers founder Frank Siller. 

The siblings were supposed to play golf the morning of 9/11 when Stephen decided to turn back, running through the Battery Tunnel to Ground Zero with all of his gear.

His sacrifice and those of others are now honored by the Tunnel to Towers run every year.

"America the beautiful is beautiful because we have people willing to risk their lives for us," Frank said. 

The money raised by the foundation supports families of first responders and service members killed or injured in the line of duty by providing them with mortgage-free homes.  

Many recipients of that help, were there to pay it forward.

"Very overwhelming, unbelievable, incredible. Can't use any other words to describe what the foundation has done for us," injured NYPD Officer Scott Abrams said. 

"I can't see it, but I can feel the energy. Everybody's told me there's a flag for every first responder that day and a corresponding picture across the way," said U.S. Marine Scott Nokes.

Reminding families it wasn't evil that triumphed that day, but rather the good.

This year, Tunnel to Towers also paid special tribute to the 13 service members who died August 26, 2021, during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

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