Coca-Cola 600 Pit Note #5
Lionel NASCAR Collectibles, Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation Partners With NASCAR Teams – In a press conference held today in the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Center, officials from Lionel NASCAR Collectibles and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation announced the Honoring Our Heroes program, a unique multi-car, on-track program in memory of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy in the United States.
Stephen Siller was a New York Fire Department firefighter who lost his life on 9/11 after returning to of the World Trade Center. He had just gotten off duty from a 24-hour shift when the call came in to report to the South Tower. He could not drive his truck through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to get to the World Trade Center, so he got out of his vehicle, donned his 75 pounds of equipment and ran through the tunnel to the towers to help in the rescue.
George Siller, Stephen’s brother and vice chairman of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, spoke at the press conference.
“When we heard the news that something had happened, we knew he would find a way to get there,” he said. “When the tower fell, we said to ourselves, ‘We just lost our brother.’ Unfortunately, that was true. We could have been angry, but we didn’t want his death to have been in vain. So, we decided to retrace his steps. We started a run from the spot where he started to the World Trade Center and we came up with the first run.”
The foundation supports a run from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the World Trade Center each year. They now sponsor more than 100 runs held either Sept. 10 or 11 nationwide to raise money and awareness for the foundation. As part of the Honoring Our Heroes program, NASCAR drivers David Gilliland, Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick will race special patriotic paint schemes featuring the foundation’s logo for the September race weekend at Richmond International Raceway.
Gilliland commented on the unique rides.
“What an honor to drive this car with everything it means,” he said. “This is pretty impressive. It’s wonderful what the NASCAR family is doing for this foundation. Hopefully, this helps raise awareness for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. And also to help our heroes and the people who defend us every day.”
“I’m really excited about this program,” said Biffle. “All of us remember exactly where we were at on 9/11. I’ll never forget it. I’m a pilot and had a hard time understanding what was going on for a while. And it became painfully obvious that we were under attack. I go to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center each year before the second Dover race. I have been around the men and women who defend this country. This is an honor. I would certainly like to participate in the run. I don’t know if I could run three miles with 75 pounds of equipment and go on to try to save people’s lives. I was certainly touched by it. This will make a lot of difference in a lot of people’s lives.”
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of diecast cars and associated merchandise for the Honoring Our Heroes program will be donated to help build “smart” homes for U.S. Army Spc. Brendan Marrocco, U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Todd Nicely and U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. John Peck, the only three surviving quadruple amputees of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.