Friday after a few appointments we trained it into the city for the second weekend in a row. I think Amtrak found their new spokesperson in Taylor, Ben, and me. It is so easy. You buy the tickets online. Drive to the station. Walk onto the train. And arrive at your destination in an efficient manner. No TSA. No waiting around an hour before the flight at a gate to wait another hour after the flight for luggage. Train is easy travel!
We arrive in New York around 3pm. Just enough time to check into the hotel. Lay down for a quick nap or what should have been a short minute to rest the eyes. We all zonked out and woke up 45 minutes before we had to be down in the lobby for the nights scheduled event. Everyone needed to shower, iron their clothes, gel hair, hair and makeup, and pack the back with medicine and everything we needed for the night. Good thing I grew up with a family of five where all we knew was organized chaos… everyone running around, bumping into one another, yelling at each other to toss the brush, begging for help to iron their clothes, reminding them to put on deodorant, and running on the door while putting on the last minute touches.
As we rushed down to the lobby, dabbing the sweat off our brows from the record speed of getting ready. The night’s agenda consisted of Taylor, Ben, and I doing dinner on a yacht that circled Manhattan. We were excited to get dressed up for the night and take it to the waters on a cold, brisk fall night with the beautiful city lights surrounding. It was absolutely beautiful to say the least. Taylor and I enjoyed a warm coffee and Baileys while we sat on the deck watching the city past only to come upon Statue of Liberty. Ben running around snapping pictures, chatting it up with the captain, and loving life!
DOESN’T even do it justice at all!
When we got back we met up with a bunch of friends from the organization Tunnels to Towers at the pub just a block from the hotel. The bar was a local fire fighters hang out. New York has an amazing amount of respect for their fire fighters and police force. That same amount of respect is then passed along to our military men. You could feel the comradery in the air.
On Saturday we took it easy. Enjoying black out blinds and sleeping in. Although we were in New York, all of us have strong Iowa roots. We went to that same pub around the corner and watched the Iowa Hawkeyes kick some booty against our neighboring state Minnesota.
For dinner we went to a cocktail and appetizer party where we met and mingled with some of the main donors to Tunnel to Towers organization. We later headed over to a spaghetti dinner. We wanted to get a carb overload to be ready for the early morning race. We called it an early night because of our 5:15 wake up call. Or at least I thought. When my head hit the pillow I was out. On the other hand, Ben and Taylor stayed up to all hours of the night watching funny shows and laughing at guy humor together.
To describe the race…First I think everyone needs to understand the mission behind the race
By the time Stephen Siller was 10 years old, he had already lost both parents. Although he went through a period of struggle, because of the love of his siblings and the values instilled in him by his parents, he grew up to be an extraordinary individual. More than most, he knew that time was precious and accomplished much in his 34 years.
On September 11th, firefighter Stephen Siller had just gotten off the late shift at Squad 1, Park Slope, Brooklyn. He was on his way to play golf with his brothers on that bright clear day when his scanner told of the first plane hitting the Twin Towers. When he heard the news, he called his wife Sally to tell her he would be late because he had to help those in need. He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear, then took his final heroic steps to the World Trade Center. When Stephen drove his truck to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, it was already closed to traffic. With sixty pounds of gear strapped to his back, he ran through the Tunnel, hoping to meet up with his own company, Squad 1.
Stephen was first and foremost a loving husband and father to five children. He was also a dedicated fireman, devoted brother, loyal friend and committed neighbor. His life brought great light to those around him.
Stephen’s brother Russell wrote these words for Stephen’s Memorial which best expresses the effect of his life on all who knew him. “Like the comet Halle-Bopp that streaked across the sky a few years ago, Stephen’s light startled us all. When we thought it could not get any brighter, it got brighter still. Just when we were enjoying it so much, for it was so unexpected, so breathtaking, it shot across the sky and went well beyond us all, deeper into the mind of God.”
Stephen’s life and his heroic death serve as reminder to us all to live life to the fullest and to spend our time hear on earth doing good – this is his legacy.
Family friend, Jay Price, shared thoughts on Stephen’s lasting legacy when he wrote, “Every momentous event, even a tragedy, has its symbolic figures. September 11th was no different; it just had a few more of them. Rudy Giuliani, Father Mychal Judge, the four guys on United Flight 93…a hundred more…a thousand. None bigger than Stephen Siller, whose stature only grows with time as New Yorkers and people from around the world follow his footsteps.”
• Never Forget Program:
The Tunnel To Towers Run, a living, breathing Memorial Tribute to the memory of the heroic life and death of Stephen Siller, FDNY, all the 343 firefighters, and all first responders who sacrificed their lives that fateful day, and all those who perished on 9/11. The Foundation has established National Tunnel To Towers Runs across the country, so that We Will Never Forget. These runs are a memorial tribute to those firefighters who laid down their lives on 9/11. Funds raised through the runs support our programs, for firefighters in particular, we support the great work of the NYC Firefighter Burn Center Foundation and burn centers throughout America.
• Building for America’s Bravest
The Foundation recognizes that the torch held by Stephen and his fellow fallen brothers on 9/11 has been passed on to those who serve in the Armed Services. Building for America’s Bravest is a program that constructs Smart Homes for military returning home with devastating injuries. Smart Homes are custom designed, on a case-by-case basis, specially adapted to address the individual needs of our most severely injured U.S. military personnel. Building for America’s Bravest helps to restore their ability to live a life of independence and is our way to show our profound gratitude for all they have sacrificed.
There is a little history behind the race and mission for the future of the race. Beyond that I don’t know if I can put into words how remarkable this event is…everything from the crowds cheering on the participants to the swarms of military participants to the pictures of the fallen on 9/11 …take a look for yourself
Overall the race went well. This was the first race Taylor attempted AND finished! Prior to this race (3.1 miles) the longest Taylor has walked at one given time was about 1.5. He just got new sockets last week and hadn’t done much walking in these new sockets at all. Basically he was testing the waters on race day. There were a few spots of his sockets that were rubbing him from the beginning so I had a feeling he would be in pain by the end of the race but he was a trooper. He walked the entire race. Since this was just a popular race the crowds were thick and at times hard to manage. Ben, a few guys from Taylor’s team, and myself had to build a barricade around the X2s, giving them ample space to swing without getting tripped up, causing Taylor to fall to the ground. Towards the end of the race, Taylor said he felt like his left leg was loose or broken….sure enough when we got done with the race and examined the legs there was a screw missing, allowing his knee to rotate 360 degrees. We searched down some tools and fixed the knee so Taylor could walk with ease. There was post-race festivities in which Taylor continued his walk. We hung out for another 2 hours before heading back to the hotel. I was starting to get worried what Taylor’s skin on his legs was going to look like once we took off the legs for the first time since 5am. To my surprise the skin looked shockingly strong with good color!
Race one is in the books as a success. I had to remind Taylor of his promise to train and run a marathon with me. He likes to joke that it doesn’t count because he was under the influence of powerful drugs when we had this conversation. Which then he jokes that I “tricked” him into agreeing to a marathon and then “trapped” him into it by posted it on the internet for all to read.
What I say…tomato-tomotto….bring on the training
POST RACE ENTERTAINMENT