Running for Heroes

Running for Heroes: The Courage of Firefighter, Casper Vanderkarr

In the heart of Ann Arbor, amidst the bustling streets and towering buildings, there stands a man of unwavering courage and dedication. Ann Arbor firefighter Casper Vanderkarr was not just a firefighter;  he was a beacon of hope and a symbol of resilience. His commitment to service extended beyond the bounds of his duty, reaching out to honor the fallen heroes of 9/11 in a remarkable display of solidarity and strength.  In 2019 Casper went to New York and ran in the Tunnel to Towers 5k race in full turnout gear.  

Casper, a 10 combat veteran with 3 tours in Iraq and an 8 year veteran firefighter from the Ann Arbor fire department commemorating the sacrifice of Stephen Siller, a firefighter who lost his life on September 11, 2001, while selflessly aiding others. For Casper Vanderkarr, participating in this race was not merely a matter of running; it was a deeply personal tribute to the heroes who had laid down their lives.

On September 11, 2001, Firefighter Stephen Gerard Siller who was assigned to Brooklyn’s Squad 1, had just finished his shift and was on his way to play golf with his brothers when he got word over his scanner of a plane hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Upon hearing the news, Stephen called his wife Sally and asked her to tell his brothers he would catch up with them later. He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear.

Stephen drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security purposes. Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped 60 lbs. of gear to his back, and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he gave up his life while saving others.

Clad in his full turnout gear, Casper is determined to run this race again.  This year Casper will be wearing the custom hydro-dipped helmet adorning his head. Crafted with care and adorned with the American Flag, it is an emblem of honor.  This year a custom 9/11 helmet shield from Box Alarm Ink will be mounted to that helmet as a symbol of unity, a tangible reminder of the past and a connection for future firefighters to learn about the legacy of bravery of firefighters that lost their lives that day..

Casper plans on tracing Stephen's footsteps again to honor those who sacrificed all. However this year it will be at the local level.  Casper and his wife will be running in the Tunnel to Towers 5k run and walk event on May 18th, 2024.  This is the 8th event in Jackson.  

If you would like to run or walk in the Jackson 5k event.  Please click on the link below.  You can show your support by being in the event, donating to the event or volunteering to help during the event.  In fact, you can help Casper by donating in his name.  Click on his direct link below to donate to T2T in his name.  


Donate in Casper's name, click here. 


Tunnel to Towers Jackson 5k link, click here. 


If you would like your own 9/11 helemt shield
click here



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