2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. Images courtesy Chevrolet, unless otherwise noted.
Millions of Americans can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing on September 11, 2001.
We should all know what the late Stephen Siller, a New York City firefighter, was doing on that day, too. The Staten Island native was off duty, but when his scanner erupted with reports of the attack, he grabbed his turnout gear, drove as far as he could, then ditched his truck and ran through the traffic-snarled Brooklyn Battery Tunnel toward the disaster.
Stephen Siller. Photo courtesy Tunnel2Towers.org.
Siller, 34, married with five kids, never returned—he’s one of 343 FDNY firefighters who gave their lives trying to rescue others.
The Siller family did not want Stephen’s sacrifice to be forgotten so they put their heads together and started organizing. First they formed a foundation, aptly named the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, and then they put together a benefit 5K run that takes participants through the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel (officially the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel) and into Manhattan, finishing at West and Murray Street less than a half mile from the 9/11 Memorial.
Since then, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation has raised millions of dollars to benefit the families of fallen first responders as well as wounded veterans and disadvantaged kids with programs in all 50 states, Canada, Great Britain, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Stephen’s brother Frank is the uncompensated chairman or the organization, and in 2016 93.10 percent of the money raised went directly to funding the foundation’s programs.
One of the Siller foundations’ most amazing efforts is called Building for America’s Bravest. The purpose is to construct mortgage-free smart homes for injured U.S. armed-forces veterans. The homes have automated doors and lighting; wheelchair accessible halls, doors and lavatories; kitchens equipped with height-adjustable cabinets, stovetops, and counters; and more.
At Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale, Arizona, sale in January, Chevrolet will be auctioning off the first production 2019 Corvette ZR1 and donating the money raised to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
General Motors employs more than 6,000 veterans and more than 50,000 GM retirees are veterans, so officials say they are appreciative of the foundation’s work on behalf of those who’ve sacrificed to serve.
“GM and Chevrolet are proud to honor and support the brave men and women of our armed forces,” said Steve Hill, GM vice president of U.S. Sales and Service. “With the proceeds from the auction of the Corvette ZR1, we will be able to offer additional support to some of our most severely wounded veterans through the Building for America’s Bravest effort.”
The ZR1 will be joined on the B-J block in Scottsdale by a 2018 Carbon 65 Edition Corvette, also donated by Chevrolet, to benefit the George W. Bush Presidential Center Military Service Initiative. The program helps veterans and their families transition to civilian life after service.