Weekly Feature



2018-07-12 / Lifestyles

Golf tournament to benefit first responders and families

by CHRIS GRAHAM
Orchard Park Editor


Marine Cpl. Mark O'Brien speaks during the presentation of his new smart home in East Aurora. The home was built by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Marine Cpl. Mark O'Brien speaks during the presentation of his new smart home in East Aurora. The home was built by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, should have been one of fun and enjoyment for New York City firefighter Stephen Siller.

Siller, a member of Brooklyn’s Squad 1, had finished his shift for the day and was heading to play golf with his brothers. That’s when he received the call about the horrifying day that was about to ensue.

A scanner notified Siller that a plane had struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Siller returned to Squad 1 and grabbed his gear. The golf outing was put on hold, and he made his way to the tower.

Siller drove to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel but couldn’t go any farther as the tunnel was closed for security purposes. He grabbed his gear and ran through the tunnel to the World Trade Center, where he saved others but lost his own life.


These firefighters are participating in the 2017 Tunnel to Towers 5K Walk and Run in Cheektowaga. From left are Juliet Marczak of the Orchard Park Fire Company and Karl Blomback and Brianne Meyer, both of the Hillcrest Fire Company. These firefighters are participating in the 2017 Tunnel to Towers 5K Walk and Run in Cheektowaga. From left are Juliet Marczak of the Orchard Park Fire Company and Karl Blomback and Brianne Meyer, both of the Hillcrest Fire Company. In his memory, the Siller family started the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation — to honor him, other first responders and members of the military. Of the money collected by the foundation, 93 percent goes to programs that the foundation supports.

The foundation holds numerous events around the country, including the Tunnel to Towers 5K Walk and Run in New York City, which honors Siller and all those who lost their lives on 9/11.

An offshoot of the race has taken place in Western New York since 2016, while the foundation also helps build smart homes for catastrophically injured service members.

The foundation built a new home for Marine Cpl. Mark O’Brien, an East Aurora resident injured when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his Humvee during a firefight with insurgents in Ramadi, Iraq. According to the foundation, O’Brien lost his right arm above the elbow and his right leg above the knee. He also sustained a traumatic brain injury.

The foundation will also build a smart home for Marine Lance Cpl. Mark Beyers, also from East Aurora, who was injured by an improvised explosive device while on foot patrol in Iraq. The foundation said the explosion took his right arm and right leg, damaged his hearing and caused other injuries and complications.

Due to the foundation helping veterans and first responders in the area, Don Lorentz, executive director of the Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce, is expanding Western New York’s involvement with the foundation by hosting the inaugural Stephen Siller 9/11 Memorial Golf Classic.

Lorentz first heard about the foundation because of its annual run and walk. This year’s WNY race will start at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Bellevue Fire Department, 511 Como Park Blvd., Cheektowaga. The golf outing, for up to 120 golfers, will begin at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 10, at the Orchard Park Country Club, 4777 S. Buffalo St.

Registration and a breakfast buffet will be held at 10 a.m., with golf starting at 11 a.m. The cost is $195 per golfer for the scramble format and includes an entry gift; luncheon; use of the practice facility and locker room; 18 holes of golf with cart, snacks and beverages on the course; a premium bar and hors d’oeuvres; and a dinner and patriotic awards reception

The dinner and patriotic celebration will be held at 5 p.m. and will include honoring community leaders and veterans. The cost is $90 for people who are not signed up for the golf tournament but want to attend the reception Lorentz said the foundation runs a major golf outing and patriotic ceremony in Staten Island every year.

“My brother-in-law is involved, and he lives in New Jersey, and he started doing one in New Jersey at his country club, and they asked me since I have different business contacts here if I’d put one in Western New York,” said Lorentz.

The outing is open to anyone, and Lorentz said individuals can donate to the raffles or become a sponsor by contacting the chamber at 662-3366.

“I’m looking for first responders, police, firemen and military if they’d like to actively participate in this, since a majority of the money is going to this foundation,” Lorentz said.

Participating with the foundation for the first time, Lorentz feels the tournament provides an opportunity to thank all those who keep the public safe on a daily basis.

“We’re grateful to the people who have sacrificed their lives and continue to do that.”

For more information about the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, visit www.tunnel2 towers.org.

email: cgraham@beenews.com

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