COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The annual Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk kicks off Friday in honor of a New York City firefighter who lost his life on September 11, 2001.
Families with kids, members of Columbia Fire, Columbia Police and even our Fort Jackson soldiers are there every year to run and walk it. But there's another group that shows up.
They feel a kind of camaraderie to the first responders who dropped everything that day 18 years ago. They know what it means to risk your life in the name of America. That’s because they’re veterans and they’ve made that sacrifice firsthand.
Indira Glennon is the Team Red White and Blue, or “Team RWB” captain. She works to brings veterans together through the organization which has chapters nationwide. Part of the way they do it is through physical activity. Glennon is an avid runner herself, recently competing in an ultra-marathon along with a number of other races.
"There's a lot of time on the road and a lot of time I spent by myself running and in my thoughts,” Glennon said. “That's what I like about it. It's kind of my therapy. As you know, I'm a veteran and it's a lot of miles, a lot of dedication."
RWB, as an organization has chapters across the country, bringing veterans together through physical activity. We honor the life and sacrifice of our veterans each day, but this week, they are honoring another group to which they are closely connected: our first responders – specifically, those who lived, died and gave it all during 9/11.
"We all have the service in common,” she said. “The service, we served somehow. Some type of entity. We feel that pull to be together."
Team RWB will be there Friday for the annual Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk honoring the life and death of Stephen Siller, a New York City Firefighter who lost his life on 9/11 after he strapped on his gear and ran through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the Twin Towers. It's a standing date for the group and Indira's coach, Trey McCain, said if you've never been, it's a sight you have to see.
"What I remember most from Tunnel to Towers two years ago is coming across the bridge from Knox Abbott Drive to Blossom Street and just seeing the veterans, the firefighters, the policemen with the flags,” said McCain. “There was a fireman running in full gear. He was ahead of me for a bit and he didn't finish too far behind me either and that was really impactful the amount of dedication that 9/11 can bring out in people. To remember this time and to come out and give their best."
It inspires a little patriotism in everyone, no matter how many steps you can string together.
"It feels like you're giving more than just running,” said Glennon. “You're celebrating life, you're celebrating lives lost. You're telling those family members that you do remember their lost ones and it's a moving memorial I think, so it's important."
The Tunnel to Towers event is on September 20 starting at 7 p.m. at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.