On the morning of September 25th, as 30,000 men, women and children assembled on the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Tom Goodkind, maestro of the TriBattery Pops was somewhere in Tribeca negotiating with the NYPD to get a baritone sax, two trombones, an alto sax, a tenor sax, a flugelhorn, two flutes, two clarinets, and a set of drums, across West Street through the police barricades.
Along with their dozen chairs and music stands, the Pops had a mission to set up on the esplanade just north of North Cove, in front of PJ Clarkes, and run through their 20-minute play list for three hours straight to stir up the runners as they made their way to the finish line of the Steven Siller Tunnel to Towers Run.
The Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk was created to retrace the final steps of Stephen Siller, a New York City firefighter who lost his life on September 11, 2001.
Stephen Siller was the youngest of seven children who, by the time he was 10 years old, lost both of his parents and was raised by his older siblings.
On the morning of September 11th, 2001, he had just finished his tour of duty with FDNY’s Brooklyn’s Squad 1 and was planning to go play golf with his brothers when he heard that a plane had just hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
He went back to his firehouse, strapped on 60 lbs. of gear and, unable to get through the tunnel with his own truck, ran through the tunnel to help fight the fires. He lost his life that morning in the collapse of the towers.
Since 2002, thousands have run in his honor and raised money for many good causes. Helping at home and around the world, the Siller Foundation worked to restore the lives of families devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Three relief centers were set up where disaster victims received essential food items and supplies to restore their lives. With the help of 15,000 volunteers, the Foundation cleaned and gutted 1,800 homes, carried our mold remediation on 1,000 homes, and completely rebuilt 250 homes.
In addition, the Foundation builds mortgage-free ‘smart’ homes for our most catastrophically injured service members through their Building for America’s Bravest program.
And after the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, the Foundation joined with New Hope Baptist Church of Watertown, NY, to help raise funds to relocate an orphanage for over 100 children in need of a safe place.
The TriBattery Pops was one of numerous bands providing music on September 25th as the runners exited the tunnel on West Street and made their way to a celebration on Vesey Street.
Mr. Goodkind said, “Our playlist included Disco Inferno, which the jogging firemen went nuts over, Stars and Stripes, the Star Spangled Banner (on one knee), and Liberty Bell.”
After the last runner passed them, the maestro commented, “This has become, over the 16 years since 9/11, the greatest local 9/11 memorial event in our area, and we are so thankful to be a part of it. 9/11 so greatly changed our community and the world. This year, in came thousands and thousands of nearby neighbors to help us all commemorate: it was a wonderful day. Next year, let’s all make it a point to get out on Sunday and enjoy the walk with our great firefighters and nearby neighbors. We’re here, we’re safe, and we will never forget that day.”