The Muhlenberg men’s lacrosse team recently participated in a very special event in New York City. Sophomore Austin Akner wrote about the experience.
Six o’clock Sunday morning, September 30, and the Muhlenberg College men’s lacrosse team was en route to New York City to run the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K. It wasn’t hard to sacrifice some of our weekend and roll out of bed before the sun when we found out what we were running for.
Stephen Siller, a FDNY firefighter of Squad 1, Park Slope, Brooklyn, from Rockville Centre, N.Y., gave his life on the tragic day of September 11, 2001. Being from Rockville Centre, his story hit home with me.
After working the night shift, his morning plans of playing golf with his brothers were interrupted by news of the first tower being hit. He called his wife, returned to the firehouse, and grabbed his 60 pounds of gear. The Battery Tunnel was closed, so he ditched his car and ran through the tunnel to meet up with his squad.
Like so many others, Siller perished on 9/11 helping save lives. At age 32, Stephen Siller left behind his wife, five children, and a legacy of sacrifice and hard work.
The 5K run retraced his footsteps. Starting at his firehouse, 30,000 runners lined the streets to honor him and all of those who lost their lives. Current firefighters from New York and around the world ran in their gear to pay tribute. It took almost 10 minutes to get across the starting line and get a jog going.
The Mules ran through the tolls into the Battery Tunnel. USA chants erupted. We cheered on Wounded Warriors as we ran. Coming out of the muggy tunnel, the first fresh breath was that of the new World Trade Center buildings against a clear sky. Cadets from West Point lined the street bearing American Flags. Firefighters sporting their formal blues held banners of the faces of all the firefighters who lost their lives. I ran by, acknowledging each smiling picture. I ran harder.
Running through Battery Park, the Statue of Liberty stood out in the sun. No one thought about the running. The burning in our legs and feet disappeared as memories of 9/11 raced through our heads. Finishing in groups, we met back up as a unit at the foot of the new FreedomTower.
It was an emotional and awesome experience. We ran with a sense of pride. Many were surprised that we made the two-hour drive from Allentown. A few Muhlenberg alumni came up and told us what year they graduated. We got to see some of our parents and take in the scenery.
I’m glad we had the opportunity to partake in such an event and contribute. It was definitely special running together through the tunnel and along the Hudson River on such a beautiful morning in New York City. We’ll look forward to doing it again next year!
For more information on the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the many causes it supports, please visit the website http://tunneltotowersrun.org/