JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS)—Nestled in the Cascades in Jackson rests a piece of history. It’s steel from tower two that was recovered nearly 40 feet from under ground zero following the September 11th attacks.
“It’s piece of history that can not be forgotten,” said Blackman Township Firefighter, Jan Ganzel.
For Ganzel, looking down on this piece of steel is deeply personal. He grew up in New York and lost several friends that day.
“There is stories of survival, there are stories from heroic actions.”
Now as a Blackman township firefighter he wears some of those faces around his neck, people like Stephen Siller who gave his life to save others on that September day.
“When he got to his station the truck was gone. He grabbed his gear and got to Brooklyn and the tunnels leading to Manhattan were already closed due to security reasons, so he through his gear on, and ran almost three and a half miles and lost his life when the towers came down,” said Ganzel.
Now his name lives on through the organization Tunnel to towers. It’s a group that’s set up across the country, including in Jackson. and tomorrow Ganzel will lead a 5k to remember the heroes from that day while also raising money for fallen first responders here in Michigan.
“95 cents out of every dollar that comes in to our foundation goes to paying off mortgages of fallen first responders, and building custom homes for catastrophic wounded veterans.”
It’s an effort others like Napoleon Township firefighter Tony Cruz hopes not only helps the brave men and women who protect us, but also brings the community together.
“I really just hope that it kind of at least for a day bring the community back to where we were after 9/11. You know when everybody was flying the flag, and everybody was proud to be an American. I just want to get us back to those days,” said Cruz.
The goal this year is 25,000 dollars. It’s money these firefighters know will be there to help families when they need it most.
“It’s bittersweet, but we are honored to honor them this year,” said Ganzel.