Inspired by the Tunnel to Towers 5K Run held in New York, Warren County EMS employee and Centertown fire lieutenant Joey Clark is striving to bring this fundraising event to McMinnville.
The event pays homage to the 343 firefighters, 71 law enforcement officers, and thousands of civilians who lost their lives Sept. 11, 2001.
“My wife Becky and I did their flagship run which retraces the steps of Stephen Siller, a firefighter who died while helping others on 9/11,” said Clark. “They don’t have a Tennessee event and I was so inspired afterward because it’s a great foundation.”
During last week’s School Board meeting, Clark shared Stephen’s heroic story with members.
“On Sept. 11, Siller was assigned to FDNY Squad 1 in Brooklyn,” said Clark. “He actually got off duty that morning, left and when he heard about the attacks, he went back to his firehouse. His company had already been assigned so he drove his personal vehicle to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but was unable to get through. So he took his 60-pound gear and ran on foot to the Twin Towers, found the rest of his company, and they were all killed that morning.”
Clark was seeking School Board approval to use the campuses of Hickory Creek and the WCHS for the local fundraising event. As of now, the tentative date for the Tunnel to Towers 5K Run is June 8. According to Clark, the planning committee is working to finalize the route as well as other key details.
“One of the things that is unique about this is it really appeals to fire, EMS, law enforcement, and the military, and a lot of people actually run it in their uniforms and in their gear,” said Clark. “I’m typically skeptical of national organizations, but 93 percent of proceeds go directly to programs, including those benefitting families of fallen first-responders, Gold Star families, and catastrophically injured service members.”
More specifically, here are a few stats regarding the foundation’s impact since its inception:
Over $3.2 million pledged to families of fallen first-responders
Over $30 million has been allocated toward the construction of smart homes for catastrophically injured American service members
Over $100 million allocated to programs
“God willing, it will never be spent in this county,” said Clark. “I hope they are never called upon to do anything for any of our folks, but just in case this is definitely something I believe is worth our support.”
Clark’s request for using the school campuses was approved by the School Board for June 8.