A piece of the World Trade Center made its way to Manteca on Monday afternoon.
And it’ll call The Family City home for the foreseeable future.
A group of more than a dozen people were on hand at Manteca’s Accent Carpet One store on Monday to greet New York Fire Department Battalion Chief John Mortorana and the precious cargo that he brought to the store owner as a sign of thanks for supporting the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and it’s drive to help provide living essentials for disabled veterans.
The 6,000-mile round trip is just part of the Staten Island-based organization’s attempt at thanking sponsors and finding new supporters in communities that appreciate the work done by the crew of volunteers.
“When we found out about this we were stoked,” said Accent Carpet One Manteca owner Janet Thornton. “I think that right behind the counter there would be a good place to display this.”
The non-profit, which uses active FDNY firefighters as representatives, is named in honor of Stephen Siller – a firefighter who was on his way to meet his brothers in New Jersey for a round of golf when he got the call that a plane had smashed into the World Trade Center.
He turned around and headed towards Lower Manhattan but hit a roadblock when traffic was halted at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. So he threw on his gear and hoofed it the two-miles through the tunnel and to the site where he and 10 other firefighters from his squad would ultimately be a part of the 343 that lost their lives trying to save others.
For more than a decade the organization has held an annual run in his honor that retraces his steps through the tunnel and to Ground Zero that started with just over 2,000 participants and now has more than 33,000 the last time it was held.
And the reason for Monday’s visit – supporting businesses affiliated with the “Building for America’s Bravest” outreach effort that provides veterans disabled from war injuries with smart homes that allow for easier access for both the disabled and their caretakers – was what Mortorana really wanted to focus on.
“All of these veterans have done something for America and we look at it as a responsibility to do something for them,” said the Brooklyn battalion leader. “I’ll be out here for five days making appearances at places and then next week somebody else will come out and pick up the van and they’ll spend five days and it’s all done on a volunteer basis.
“We’re just grateful for the support.”
Two of the biggest sponsors of the undertaking, Carpet One and Mohawk Industries, have pledged to provide some of the materials necessary to outfit the 200 homes that the non-profit is retrofitting for people like Brendan Marrocco – the first U.S. serviceman in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to survive a quadruple amputation. Marrocco, a Staten Island native, was picked to become one of the recipients for the joint undertaking by the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and Homes for Heroes because of his Staten Island roots and the needs of he and his family. He underwent a double arm transplant at Johns Hopkins University – only the seventh in American history.
As a sign of support for the efforts, Thornton made a $1,000 donation on behalf of her customers, and Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion made a $500 donation on behalf of his Police Chief’s Foundation fund.