I am so very proud of my nephew Patrick--pictured on the right in the photo collage above--who participated on Sunday, May 17th, 2015, in the first ever "Tunnel to Towers Tower Climb." He and another 999 participants climbed over approximately 2,000 steps to go 90 stories high in the new One World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York, that was built to replace the Twin Towers that were attacked and destroyed on 9-11-2001. The participants were from 26 states and four countries, male and female, firefighters, military members, friends and family members of fallen first responders, among others. My nephew was honoring his father, my brother, who was a New York City firefighter for almost 30 years. The Tunnel to Towers Foundation was formed to honor Stephen Stiller, one of the 343 fire fighters who lost their lives on 9-11. His heroic story can be read on this link.
Captain Billy Burke. photo source.
The Tower Climb was also in memory of firefighter Captain Billy Burke, who lost his life on the 27th floor of Tower One, as he was helping two trapped men, one of whom was in a wheelchair, trying to escape the burning building. Tower Two had already collapsed and Tower One was soon going to do the same, but Capetian Burke told the other firefighters to leave, as he would stay with the men on the stairs. His last words were: " Keep going, I'm right behind you." Captain Burke's sister came from Florida to do the climb--you can read her story and see a video of how she trained for the climb on this link.
Building For America's Bravest video can also be watched on this link.
To participate in this event my nephew had to pay an entrance fee and he also fundraised to support the foundation "Building For America's Bravest" that builds smart homes" for catastrophically wounded soldiers, most who are double, triple and even quadruple amputees. The smart homes allow amputees to be able to live as normally as possible with their injuries. One such veteran, Army Sgt. Bryan Dilberian, a triple amputee, who lost both legs and his left arm, when he stepped on a IED in Afghanistan in 2011, joined in the Tower Climb today, climbing up the stairs on his prostheses! You can see a short video interview with him and read his story on this link. My nephew was very inspired when he saw Bryan climbing the stairs, and when he saw him complete the task!
Patrick has made my family proud before, as he is also a brave mountain climber when he is not teaching high school language arts classes, and being a loving husband and father of two daughters. I blogged about his ascent to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro on this post. He has since climbed Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Washington. He also entered the Tower To Tunnel race last year but a last minute injury prevented his run. Never-the-less, the money he raised for that event went towards the Tower to Tunnel Foundations's many wonderful charity causes. Patrick made the 2,000 plus step Tower Climb climb in 27:28 minutes, accomplishing his goal of doing it in under 30 minutes. Patrick, you are a true hero among heroes! We are so proud of your accomplishments!
If you would like to donate for this very worthy cause, Building For America's Bravest, you can do so on this link. These men gave so much and deserve our support to help live the rest of their lives as functionally as possible in a handicap accessible home of their own. The waiting list for such a home is so long--please consider helping these true heroes.
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