Brooklyn Heights, NY -- The St. Francis College women's bowling team, for the fourth consecutive year, participated in the 11th Annual “The Firefighter Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers” run on Sunday, September 30th.
The team paid tribute to the fallen heroes on September 11, 2001 with a special homage to fallen FDNY officer Lt. Dan O' Callaghan, whose niece Kaitlin Caspar bowls for the college. O 'Callaghan was stationed at engine company 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9.
“We had over 45 people with us this year at $50 an entry and we raised over $2,250,” said Terriers' head coach Dawn Gugliaro. “This year the team invited friends and family to join the run. I had 12 friends and 15 family members run the race with us and they invited friends and family as well.”
This tradition all came about by a hint of suggestion by way of Caspar. “It started out as a suggestion by Kaitlin and it has grown into one of our staple events,” mentioned Gugliaro. “We are not only proud to do it as New Yorkers, but as a part of Kaitlin's family. When we run, we wear shirts from Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9, in honor of Lt. O'Callaghan and all the men and women who are heroes that day.”
Caspar recalled her first time she ran as a memorable experience. “I did my first run in 2005 to honor my uncle and it wound up being one of the most uplifting experiences in my life,” commented Caspar. “My teammates joined me back in 2009 to show me and my family their support. From there, we run as a way to honor all the heroes of 9/11. This year I was able to go see the memorial which made it even more special.”
“While in the tunnel, you could hear chants of USA, USA, USA; Let's Go Yankees and Who Rah for all the military personnel,” commented both Gugliaro and Caspar.
“The loudest of cheers, in my opinion, were for the wounded warriors, who ran/walked, as well as double, triple, and quadruple amputees,” stated Caspar. “As you jog by them, you cheer them on, appreciate all their sacrifice and know how lucky we, as Americans, are to have the military, firefighters, police and other public service members ready to give it all to help, save and protect our way of life."
If you ask fellow senior bowler Alyson Piergiovanni, the tradition of the run is highly anticipated. “Participating in the run has become something I look forward to each and every year,” said the senior bowler. “Being this is the fourth year, we try to bring in more people and raise more money. The bond that we have made not only as team, but with the families, including Kaitlin's, who have been affected has made this run and experience one that I will never forget."
What made the event even more special this season was the fact that Alyson ran with her father after he was able to recover from a heart attack last year.
For senior Marissa Gargiulo, taking part in such an event centers on pride and appreciation. “The girls and I are proud to run each year,” stated Gargiulo. “The towers had a special place in all of our hearts, and running is just our way of showing our appreciation to the families and heroes of that day.”
"As we made our way out of the tunnel, firefighters were there with banners of the 343 firefighters lost on September 11th, it served as a reminder that we do this to honor them," added coach Gugilaro.
Kaitlin Caspar Timeline of the day at the 11th Annual “The Firefighter Stephen Siller” Tunnel to Towers Run:
3:30 am: Kaitlin Caspar's family wakes up and leaves Long Island to find parking in Manhattan.
4:00 am: Coaches mother leaves from New Jersey.
7:00 am: Friends and family meet in Brooklyn.
8:00 am: Meet with SFC Bowling team and family at event; Head to table to pick up running numbers
9:00 am: Opening ceremonies for the race commences
10:00 am: Pass the starting gate
10:45 am: Exit the tunnel
11:00 am: Walk towards the Freedom Tower.
· “Before you reach the Towers, we made a left towards the River. We could see all the high school cheerleading teams and marching bands encouraging us to "keep going", and "you're doing a great job"
11:15 am: All branches of the military are running alongside us as well as firefighters and family wearing full firefighter gear as Steven Sillier did that day.
· “As we rounded the Winter Gardens, we see a fire boat in the water spraying water from the river.”
11:20 am: Head towards the finish line as we see the Freedom Tower in an amazing light.
11:30 am: Refreshments and food are given out; Music is playing as we relax.
1:00 pm: We enter the 9/11 Memorial.