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14th Annual Tunnel To Towers Race Sunday

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The 14th annual Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers race will take place Sunday in honor of 9/11 first responders and the military.

As CBS2's Mary Calvi reported, the race is an extremely emotional day as thousands of people run in the footsteps of a hero.

WEB EXTRA: The Tunnel To Towers 5K Run Guide

On September 11, 2001, Siller, a firefighter, worked an overnight shift at Brooklyn's Squad 1. He was on his way to meet his brothers to play golf when the news of the World Trade Center attack came across his scanner. He turned around and grabbed his turnout gear instead of his clubs. Traffic was halted at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but that didn't deter him. Undaunted, he strapped on 60 pounds of gear and ran through the tunnel and into history.

"That's my brother," George Siller said. "He was always looking to help people out. I'm sure he was thinking about his family as he was running to the towers, but his duty overcame everything."

"When the towers went down, I turned to my mother-in-law and said, 'I just lost my brother,'" said Frank Siller.

Stephen Siller
Stephen Siller died in the Sept. 11 terror attacks (Credit: CBS 2)

On that fateful day, New York City lost 342 of Stephen Siller's firefighting brethren and the country was drawn into a war.

Taking care of the men who protect the freedom of Americans has become the battle cry for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, started by his family. Its program Building for America's Bravest designs and constructs "smart homes" for the most critically wounded service members. The homes are personally designed to meet the specific needs of veterans by using the latest technology, giving the heroes a new sense of independence.

"Tunnel to Towers gave me one thing that I guess every single citizen wants to have: freedom, your own house," said Ronny Porta, a smart home recipient.

The 5K run and walk begins at 9:30 a.m. at the IKEA parking lot in Red Hook. Tune into CBS2 for live coverage.

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