Run in Tunnels to Towers 5K in Remembrance of 9/11

As millions of Americans prepared to remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Rick Mantei and team members took part in the annual Tunnels to Towers 5k run-walk in Columbia, S.C. 

Tunnels to Towers was founded in honor of firefighter Stephen Gerard Siller, who, on the morning of 9/11, raced through the closed Brooklyn Battery Tunnel on foot in full gear to the Twin Towers, where he sacrificed his life to save others. The foundation has raised $250 million in support of catastrophically injured first responders and veterans as well as their families, and has provided 450 mortgage-free homes to those heroes in need.

This year’s event began on September 10th with a memorial speech and the national anthem at sunset. Participants gathered to listen in front of the American flag hung from a Columbia firetruck. Participants ranged from first responders and firefighters in full gear to USC’s ROTC, veterans, and families. All ran together along the route from the starting line at the Columbia Convention Center across the Gervais bright, along Columbia’s Riverwalk and back up the Blossom Street bridge to the finish line. All along the Gervais and Blossom Street bridges were families and observers waving full-size American flags and cheering on the runners and walkers, along with some participants who stayed at the finish line to encourage the others on the last stretch of the 5k.

“Some of my favorite memories from that evening,” recalls Firth, “were running with the Columbia firefighters in their full gear and watching a military soldier carrying a full weighted pack on his back make his way across the finish line.” 

The image that sticks out in my mind was having all the retired military on the sidelines cheering and thanking everyone,” said Patel. “It’s moments like that which remind me of America on September 12, 2001, the day when everyone was united as Americans.”

Veteran Rick Mantei, is proud to support much-needed foundations such as Tunnels to Towers that honor our nation’s heroes, and is proud of team members Firth and Patel for taking part in this incredible event.