The footrace was secondary to the ceremony Saturday as the men and women who have given their lives in the line of duty as first-responders were remembered.
The Tunnel to Towers Middle Tennessee 5K Run/ Walk was held Saturday morning at Warren County High School with right at 360 people participating and around $25,000 raised.
“This is an amazing cause and I’m just so proud of all the support we’ve received from Warren County and beyond,” said event organizer Joey Clark. “We’ve never spent any money in Warren County and I hope we never will because of what it would mean to have that happen. But we can come out and support other communities who have lost someone.”
The event supports the Stephen Siller Foundation, which honors the sacrifice of its namesake, first-responders who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, and those who continue to die while on the job or in military service.
Clark said the organization has recently paid for homes for three families in Middle Tennessee, including a Hendersonville police officer killed late last year and a Smithville soldier killed in Afghanistan. Their wives were in attendance Saturday.
“This is Tennessee’s only Tunnel to Towers event which is why it draws people from all over,” said Clark. “We had a firefighter from France who participated.”
For families who already have an established home, the foundation will pay off their mortgage so they are not encumbered by that monthly bill.
A number of law enforcement officers and firefighters participated in the race/ walk. Volunteer firefighters from Centertown and North Warren walked in full turnout gear.
“I’m about 50 to 60 pounds heavier with my gear on,” said Clark, a volunteer firefighters in Centertown. “That gear is made to keep heat out so it also works the other way around and keeps heat in. It gets hot in there.”
Sheriff’s Department deputy Jarvis Johnson ran the race carrying a flag and wearing a 20-pound, steel-plated vest.
“Running in memory of another officer always has special meaning,” said Johnson. “It’s in remembrance of them and their family.”
Clark participated in a Tunnel to Towers race in New York City in 2018 and ran right into a passion for the organization. This is the second year a race has been held in McMinnville.