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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — Thousands laced up their sneakers for a 5K run in Ft. Lauderdale honoring the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

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The Tunnel to Towers run was held downtown Saturday, September 10th, and patterned with the event in New York that has grown to include 20,000 runners, celebrating first responders and military service personnel who serve, sacrifice and protect.

CBS4 News Anchor Rick Folbaum hosted the event first started by the family of the late FDNY Firefighter Stephen Siller.

“We should honor them today on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the terror attacks and we should honor them each and every day,” Folbaum told the crowd Saturday morning.

Siller, who was off duty when he learned of the first plane hitting the Twin Towers on 9/11, went to his station, gathered his gear and tried to drive to the scene only to find the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel closed. Undeterred, he donned his bunker gear and ran through the tunnel to reach Squad 1 at the Twin Towers. He was one of the 343 FDNY firefighters who lost their lives that day.

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“It’s sobering,” said Hannah, who took her three children to watch their father run. “Pain is very real. And we’re a first responder family so it definitely resonates with you. To see people go through that loss, people who serve so much and give so much of themselves, to lose their lives from the horrible things that hateful people do.”

This year, on Sept. 11 at 9:59 a.m. — the exact time that firefighter Siller lost his life when the South Tower collapsed — the Tunnel to Towers Foundation will give Army SGT Corey Kent (Ret.) the opportunity to begin a new life in a high-tech customized “smart home” in Cape Coral, FL with features run off an iPad.

Kent lost both legs and the fingers from his left hand in an IED explosion in Afghanistan and was awarded the Purple Heart by President Barack Obama.

“In the 15 years since its inception, Tunnel to Towers has created 56 high-tech “smart homes” for catastrophically injured service members; paid off the mortgages on the family homes of slain NYPD Detectives Liu and Ramos; presented each of the families of the five assassinated Dallas police officers with $100,000; held the first-ever Tower Climb events at 1 World Trade Center to grant first responders the opportunity to run to the top of the building — something their fallen colleagues were unable to do on 9/11; and provided tens of millions of dollars in goods, services and financial assistance for Hurricane Katrina and Super Storm Sandy relief as well as additional millions to burn centers and numerous child- assistance programs,” the organization said in a press release.

The 5K run will also be held in Miami on Sept. 18, 2016.

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