9/11 memorial 5K run, walk in Newport Beach on Sunday, and there's still time to sign up

By Lou Ponsi

For Tom Frost of Rancho Santa Margarita, the decision to participate in the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation 5K Run & Walk was an easy one.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Frost’s daughter, Lisa Anne, was flying home on United Airlines Flight 175 after graduating from Boston University.

Terrorists took control of the plane and slammed it into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

Lisa, 22, and a 1997 graduate of Trabuco Hills High School, was one of 2,982 who died during the terrorist attacks that day.

Frost, who has been an active participant in 9/11 commemorative events around the country ever since, will be on the starting line for Sunday’s 5K, which starts at 9 a.m. at the Newport Dunes Resort & Marina in Newport Beach.

Money raised from the event goes to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, named for New York City firefighter Stephen Siller, who also was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Siller, who was assigned to a station in Brooklyn, was headed toward the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel en route to lower Manhattan.

The tunnel had already been closed, however, so Siller carried 60 pounds of gear on his back and traveled on foot through the tunnel.

He made it to the World Trade Center, where he was among 343 New York firefighters who perished.

The following September, the foundation’s first 5K took place in New York, with runners traveling the same route taken by Siller.

Since then, the foundation has hosted events throughout the country and donating the proceeds to organizations that benefit law enforcement and the military.

“The work they do is remarkable,” said Frost, on the foundation and why he participates. “That is a family that really went above and beyond in trying to live up to the motto, ‘Never forget.’”

Photo courtesy of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation

Frost, an avid marathon runner, also is participating in a 9/11 memorial stair climb on Saturday in San Diego that benefits firefighters.

Bryan Carter, a Newport Beach firefighter, was race director in 2012, the first year a Tunnel to Towers 5K was held in Orange County.

The 5K wasn’t held in Orange County again until 2016.

Carter no longer is race director but still helps organize the event.

He became motivated to get involved after participating in the Tunnel to Towers 5K in New York, where he met four military veterans who were quadruple amputees.

“It was a game-changer in terms of perspective,” said Carter.

The firefighter is hoping to get more participants in this year’s 5K and said he did a better job getting word out to public safety agencies and the public.

“Once people learn the story behind Stephen and where the money goes, they realize that it is one of the better events and for a good cause,” Carter said.

For more information on the Stephen Siller Foundation Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk in Newport Beach, click here