LAND O' LAKES, Fla. - Frank Siller has been walking for weeks on a journey that's spanned several states. He's called the mission the "Never Forget Walk" to mark 20 years since the September 11th attacks.
"I felt for the 20th anniversary, that it would be very important to go to the three places that had such loss of life. So, I'm walking from the Pentagon to Shanksville to Ground Zero and coming in on the 20th anniversary at Ground Zero," said Siller.
His younger brother, firefighter Stephen Siller, was among the thousands who perished on that day in 2001.
"He was the very core of our family," Frank said. "When he ran through the Brooklyn-Battery tunnel with 60 pounds of fire gear on his back to get through the other side to help, [he] went into the South Tower and gave up his life."
At the end of this walk, Frank will retrace his steps.
"Walking through the same tunnel that my brother ran through as a New York City firefighter. He gave his life while saving others," he said.
The Siller family wanted to create something impactful in Stephen's honor. They established the Tunnel to Towers Foundation to assist those who serve their country and their communities. The foundation honors Stephen’s sacrifice. Donations support injured first responders, military heroes and their families.
Most recently, they paid off the mortgage for the family of fallen Tampa Police Officer Jesse Madsen.
"When they go out to serve their country or their community, they give their kids a kiss goodbye and [when] they don't come home, we have to make sure that we take care of these families that are left behind," Frank explained.
They've set up smart homes for wounded veterans.
"The smart home is built for each individual’s injury," Frank explained. "So, if somebody is a triple amputee, if somebody is a quadriplegic, they need different things in the house."
And later this year, the Tunnel To Towers Foundation plans to break ground on the "Let Us Do Good Village" in Land O'Lakes.
"We're so honored and we're so fortunate that we had a great anonymous donor donate this beautiful land to us. We didn't know exactly what to do with it and we were talking with them and we thought it best to make a village for these great heroes to be together…whether it's a Gold Star family or a fallen first responder family," Frank said.
His walk to remember his brother and America's heroes may be winding down, but his cause is only getting bigger.
"St. Francis of Assisi who is our patron saint of our foundation said, ‘Brothers and sisters, while we have time, let us do good,’ and I know what we're doing is good and it is necessary, it is right and it is just," Frank said.
The 2021 Tunnel To Towers Climb Tampa will be held on Saturday, October 16th at 8 a.m. at One Tampa City Center located on 201 N. Franklin Street. For information on registration, click here.
Tunnel To Towers will host a 5K Run & Walk Trinity Pasco on Saturday, October 30th at 7:45 a.m. at Starkey Ranch District Park located at 2500 Heart Pine Avenue in Odessa. Registration information can be found here.
Tunnel To Towers will host a 5K Run & Walk Clearwater on Saturday, November 6th at 8:30 a.m. at Coachman Park located on 301 Drew Street in Clearwater. Registration information can be found here.
Learn more about Tunnel To Towers by visiting their website.