FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Thousands of runners gathered to support the victims of 9|11 in the first annual Tunnel to Towers 5K run Saturday morning in Ft. Lauderdale. The run is patterned on an event in New York that has grown to include 20 thousand runners.

The run is to honor the 343 firefighters and other first responders who died trying to rescue victims of the World Trade Center attacks. Ft. Lauderdale is one of more that 30 cities who have joined with the New York event to honor those who tried to save lives after the 9|11 attacks.

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Many of the firefighters who ran in Saturday’s event ran in full bunker gear in honor of Stephen Siller, the off duty New York City firefighter who abandoned his car in the jammed Brooklyn to Battery tunnel and ran toward the World Trade Center in full firefighter gear. He was picked up by a fire crew, taken to the towers, and was never seen again.

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The run is in memory of his sacrifice.

The proceeds raised by the run, through registration fees and donations, are given to a foundation in Siller’s name.

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CBS4 Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli helped organize the South Florida event, after working with the original run while living in New York.