N.Y. Natives Host Penn. 5K in Honor of 9/11 First Responders
Standard-Speaker, Hazleton, Pa.
Mar. 12—Lisa Bartel and her husband, William, were living in Staten Island, New York, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
The New York natives, who moved to Weatherly in 2009, lost friends and co-workers when the towers collapsed.
That's why an upcoming fundraiser that Lisa and her daughter, Jillian Bartel, are organizing in Weatherly is so close to their hearts.
The 5K run/walk will benefit the Stephen Siller Tunnels to Towers Foundation, which remembers those who lost their lives during the attacks; honors first responders and military personnel who make extraordinary sacrifices in the line of duty, and helps injured first responders and military personnel.
"My husband was a (New York Police Department) police officer. He was off duty that day," Lisa said, referring to Sept. 11.
William was quickly called into service and spent almost three months at ground zero.
"He was on the pile, trying to dig people out, just hoping for survivors," Lisa said.
Among the estimated 3,000 casualties were 343 firefighters and almost two dozen police officers. Siller, for whom the race is named, was a New York City firefighter who lost his life after strapping on his gear and running through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the Twin Towers.
"I worked in banking when I lived in Staten Island. It was at a local savings bank and (Siller's) family were customers. We knew them as customers," Lisa said.
In 2002, the first Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K was held in New York City. Lisa's employer was one of the sponsors and she volunteered at the event.
She gave her time to the event every year thereafter, and was pleased to see when other areas began holding runs.
"People who started volunteering at the New York City run said, 'Listen, we want to bring this to our community. When you leave (New York), you don't have that connection,'" she said.
Lisa and Jillian, a senior at Weatherly Area High School, started the run in Weatherly in 2017 and hope to make it an annual event.
Jillian, who is Miss Greater Hazleton Outstanding Teen of 2016 and Miss State Capitol's Outstanding Teen of 2017, also organized other fundraisers for the foundation.
Funds raised go toward building "smart" homes for injured first responders and military troops, and to families who lost a loved one in the line of duty.
"We are humbled to volunteer for such a wonderful organization that does so much to honor our first responders and our catastrophically injured servicemen," Lisa said.
The event will be held April 22 from Eurana Park in Weatherly. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. and the race follows at 9:30. To register, visit t2trun.org and click on "Northeastern PA."
"We would love to have teams of runners including our local first responders' families and friends," Lisa said.
Businesses that wish to help sponsor the run can contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.