Hundreds participate in Tunnel to Towers climb, honor 9/11 heroes

Hundreds of runners raced to the top of One World Trade Center to honor firefighter Stephen Siller and others killed when the twin towers collapsed on 9/11.

The 3rd annual Tunnel to Towers tower climb took place this morning.

At 5:00 a.m., as the elite climbers readied to begin their assent of One World Trade Center, the tallest skyscraper in the western hemisphere, there were two strong reminders of what the third annual Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation tower climb, was all about- Patti Ann McDonald, widow of NYPD detective Steven McDonald and Fiona Fahy, widow of FDNY battalion chief Michael Fahy served as the honorary official starters.

 “They just represent how you face adversity. We have a choice in life- they made an absolutely beautiful choice. They’re living the legacies of their husbands by doing good, and it's really an honor of having them here today,” said Mary Siller Scullin, Treasurer of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

The elite climbers make their way up to One World Observatory on the 102nd floor, but the race is actually 104 floors, because the start is 2 floors below street level.

This year's tower climb honored Captain Billy Burke.

“Captain Billy Burke saved someone's life. He could have gotten out, but stayed behind with somebody. He made a conscious decision to stay behind. What an act of heroism," said Tunnel to Towers Foundation CEO Frank Siller.

“I thought of his words- to keep going, I'm right behind you. That was a real inspiration. It was nice to see all the other firefighters, climbing the stairs, police officers from everywhere. That was as much of inspiration as anything else,” said Captain Burke’s Brother Chris Burke.

Nearly 850 people participated in Sunday’s climb, including 13-year-old , Julianne Yotov, who goes to school in Park Slope near the firehouse where Stephen Siller was assigned on September 11th.

Everyone has their own story.

Proceeds from the tower climb will be used to build high-tech "smart homes" for service members who have been severely injured in war.