FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — Thousands of people took on the Tunnel-To-Tower Run on Saturday morning in Fort Lauderdale.

Stephen Siller is the reason they run.

Siller was a courageous firefighter who perished on 9/11, a day he was supposed to have off from work.

Instead, he ran the Battery Tunnel from Brooklyn to Manhattan. His heroism has touched thousands across the country.

Siller’s brother, Frank Siller, said “He didn’t have to run through that tunnel. It was closed, but he strapped 65 pounds of gear on and ran, because you know what that’s what firefighters do.”

The Siller family started the Tunnel-To-Tower Run in New York in 2002. The event, which was intended to retrace Stephen Siller’s final footsteps to commemorate his memory, has become a yearly tribute to all who lost their lives on 9/11.

Deputy Fire Chief Robert Hoecherl said the runners feel a connection.

“You kind of have an idea of what those guys were going into. Some of them probably knew they would not make it out,” Hoecherl said.

Firefighters ran the race in full gear, wearing the pictures of the 343 firefighters who perished on 9/11.

Steve Strohl feels the run is a worthy cause.

“If you are going to support something, the heroes of America…firefighters, cops, whoever rushed into that building on 9/11…I give my heart and soul out to them and to their families,” Strohl said.

The run raises money to build homes for triple- and quadruple-amputee soldiers from post-9/11 wars, like Cpl. Todd Nicely, who stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) and lost his limbs in 2010.

There are more than 60 Tunnel-To-Tower Runs nationwide. Team