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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
  • Wellington Tunnel to Towers event full of star, stripes and inspiration

  • It was an emotional scene in Wellington this morning. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers run took place, raising money for America's heroes, and offered inspiration for those who participated and attended.
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  • It was an emotional scene in Wellington this morning. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers run took place, raising money for America's heroes, and offered inspiration for those who participated and attended.
    One of the most moving gestures that took place this morning was the handful of fire fighters, and military personnel that ran the 3.1 miles in full gear. Wellington's Alex Stallbaumer was one of the participants fully clad in equipment.
    "It was pretty difficult," said an out of breath Stallbaumer. "I think the worst part was the air-pack...it was bobbling up and down and then the wind." She decided to suit up after seeing that fire fighters from other towns had their gear on, and to honor the man the event is named after.
    "The guy [Stephen Siller] that did this in 9/11, he ran to the towers in full gear," Stallbaumer said. "I was going to run in my gear, with no air-pack but the guys from Wichtia, they were putting their air-pack on so I had to too. I didn't want to be a big wimp," she laughed. The race is full of symbolism, with local veteran, Jerrod Hays giving the "start" signal, the runners and walkers made their way up C Street, through a "tunnel" of American Legion riders and their bikes in front of the Wellington Fire Station. Then it was a three mile run through Woods Park with an uphill climb on Harvey to simulate the climb up the tower.
    There were 126 registered runners for the event. A piece of the old World Trade Center was awaiting the runners at the end of the course back in front of the fire station.
    "The ending was awesome," said runner, John Stalcup, of Wellington. "I had run this route in practice before, and was pretty much used to everything out and back, but the start and the finish...it's awesome." United States Army, Capt. Paul Stankich, out of Wichita also ran in full combat gear on Saturday, because he didn't want the fire fighters to do it alone. He added that the story of Stephen Siller is a very powerful one.
    "It embodies what I think Americans think about fireman, and people who serve," Stankich said. "The story of the fireman that this run comes from, that is what people expect out of firemen."
    The Wellington Daily News will have more from Saturday's event published soon. To read more about the event, click here.

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