(WSIL) — After a moment of silence, more than 300 Trico students began a memorial 5K walk and run to honor first responders who lost their lives on 9/11.
Students in the Trico Community School district focused on the individual sacrifice of New York firefighter Stephen Siller.
Although off-duty that morning, Siller geared up and raced to the towers to join his squad, costing him his life.
Trico teacher and race organizer, David Goetting, said when firefighter Siller got stuck in traffic at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, he got out of his truck and ran to the World Trade Center, "He strapped on 60 pounds of his gear and ran to the towers. Unfortunately, he did not survive."
To commemorate his bravery and perseverance, Siller’s family later started the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Dozens of runs to honor his loss take place across the nation.
Trico students hope their participation will encourage others to remember.
Rylee Fisher, a senior at Trico said, "I hope we encourage other people, other schools to support and give back to people who lost their lives on 9/11."
She and her classmates were taking part in the run, with some walking and others running.
Eight grader, Kadyn Bernais, said he was proud to honor the lives of first responders, "We’re doing a run for a good cause."
Trico junior, Reagan Couch, says bringing the students together for an event like the run will help them remember it even more, "It’s important to do something like this, because yes, showing your kids videos in the classrooms is showing them what happened but getting outside and doing something for the people that risked their life for you, will actually put it in your heart and make you remember it."
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation recently paid the mortgage for the family of Illinois State Trooper Nicholas Hopkins, who lost his life in the line of duty.
The foundation has also paid off mortgages for two other Illinois law enforcement officers, Fulton County Sheriff’s Deputy Troy Chisum and McHenry County Deputy Sheriff Jacob Keltner. Chisum died while responding to a domestic violence call in Avon, Illinois. Keltner was shot and killed outside of a motel in Rockford while serving a warrant.