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Tunnel to Towers Tower Climb New York City

Sun June 2, 2024 New York, NY 10007 US Directions

James Thompson

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Raised of $10,000


Ascendimus ad Altissimus

Like all New Yorkers of a certain age, I vividly remember small, otherwise mundane details of the day the Twin Towers fell.  The sneakers I was wearing on my way to class, the music I listened to as the bus hummed along its normal route into Manhattan and, ultimately, hauntingly, my uncle’s voice cracking as we looked out from Narrows Road over New York Bay – dark smoke holding perfectly still in the blue sky – when he said “Look at the skyline now.”  

I remember the black smoke and the orange glow from which it rose and the acrid smell of chemicals and ash that choked the streets of life and joy for months after.  I was young and clumsy and wanting for words and thoughts; something profound and hopeful that I could take with me into the world as I, myself, would eventually grow as tired and gray as the city felt that day.  We all would have our stories from September 11.  Mine begins and ends with memories of looking out over the bay and into that sky.  

In each of 2022 and 2023, I was fortunate enough to participate in the Tower Climb NYC at One World Trade Center, climbing 104 stories in support of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.  And, to be sure, each experience was unique and memorable in its own right.  Almost miraculously, however, each climb culminated in the same way: atop One World Trade Center, watching the sun rise in the distance over New York City.  Each time, the weather was clear enough to see well out into the bay, beyond the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and the Verrazano Bridge over which the bus hummed as it took me into Manhattan twenty years before.  Clearer still, I could see out over Brooklyn, where my parents and aunt and that uncle who implored to look at the skyline now, all were born and raised.  Lastly, I could see all the way south into Staten Island and onto Fort Wadsworth and Narrows Road, thinking about the past and the sky and how blue it is once the smoke and ash drifted away.

I never met Stephen Siller or Captain William F. Burke, Jr. or any other FDNY firefighter for whom this event is held in memory.  But I will once again ascend the World Trade Center in their honor.   

Stephen Siller was an FDNY firefighter assigned to Brooklyn’s Squad 1, who, on the morning of September 11, 2001, had just finished his shift and was on his way to play golf with his brothers. He suddenly got word over his scanner that an airplane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Stephen drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, strapped 60 lbs. of gear to his back and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers. There, he gave up his life while saving others.

Captain William F. Burke, Jr. and his men were on the 27th floor of the North Tower when the South Tower collapsed. Billy immediately alerted the Captain of Ladder Co. 6 and the Officer of Ladder Co. 24, his original company, of the collapse. They, along with their men, immediately evacuated along with a number of civilians they were assisting, all surviving. Minutes later the North Tower collapsed and Billy perished along with the other innocents on September 11, 2001. He selflessly repeated, “keep going, I’m right behind you,” to keep his men moving to safety.

Please join me in contributing to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, in honor, memory and celebration of America’s heroes.  



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$11,393 Raised By 86 Donors

$1,000 on behalf of David Levine
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$50 from Anonymous
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