While We Have Time, Let Us Do Good The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run in Columbia, SC

by Shannon Boatwright

image 1I had the honor of being a part of this most incredible event on September 20th, 2019.  My aunt Susan Vaughan McPherson, who is the Director of Public Policy & Military Affairs at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, works with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and helped to organize this event. She invited my family and me to participate last year, but due to a hurricane, they, unfortunately, had to cancel the event. So, this year, we really looked forward to being a part of this special event. And when I say special, goodness do I ever mean it! To understand the impact of this event, you really must be there in person.

A little info on the meaningful purpose behind this event…

The info below is taken from the Tunnel to Towers website.

image 4“Firefighter Stephen Gerard Siller was the youngest of seven children born to Mae and George Siller. At the age of eight, Stephen lost his father, and a year and a half later his mother passed away, leaving him an orphan to be raised by his older siblings. For a while, Stephen went through a period of struggle, but thanks to the love of his siblings, and the values instilled in him by his parents, he grew up to be an extraordinary individual and dedicated firefighter. More than most, he knew that time was precious and accomplished much in his 34 years.

On September 11, 2001, Stephen, 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 lost his life while saving others.

Stephen had everything to live for: a great wife, five wonderful children, a devoted extended family, and friends. Stephen’s parents were lay Franciscans and he grew up under the guiding philosophy of St. Francis of Assisi, whose encouraging and inspirational phrase, “while we have time, let us do good,” were words that Stephen lived by. Stephen’s life and heroic death serve as a reminder to us all to live life to the fullest and to spend our time here on earth doing good – this is his legacy.”

My daughter, Mina, who is on the cross-country team at her high school, ran the Tunnel to Towers for the first time this year. She ended up doing an amazing job, coming in 64th out of 1278 people total who ran and 11th out of all the women who ran, placing 2nd in her division. She had the priceless opportunity to run alongside our firemen and first responders. Words really cannot describe how inspiring and motivating it is to run for such a great cause and in memory of so many precious people.  To recognize and applaud the people who fight for our country and help to keep us safe, to run alongside and cheer on all the first responders, military and fellow supporters, well, to say it fills the heart is an understatement. Let’s just say, we plan to be a part of this truly special event every year and I encourage you all to do the same!

Stephen Livingston, Lexington Fire Department, Station 2, congratulating Mina, my daughter, on placing in her division.


Please do check out the website https://tunnel2towers.org/ and mark your calendars for next year’s run!



The Latest Craze: Rockin’ It For Great Causes

By: Shannon Shull

I think we can all agree that we love the opportunity to support a good cause. Bake sales, raffles, dinners and auctions are all great money-raising activities that folks can utilize to support a charity, person in need, or specific cause.  Not many things beat the feeling of knowing you contributed to helping others and helped to make a difference!

Zumbathon logo

The latest money-raising craze is the rockin’ fitness dance party known as the Zumbathon. Whether or not you even know what Zumba is, chances are you’ve heard of or seen the word “Zumbathon.”  They are all over the place these days!  Practically everywhere you go, you see or hear of another Zumbathon.  So what exactly is a Zumbathon?

A Zumbathon charity event is a Zumba Fitness-Party that is open to the public and raises funds and awareness for a selected charity (an organization, individual or community in need). These events can only be hosted by licensed Zumba Instructors who have been granted approval by Zumba Fitness, LLC.

So why are Zumbathons so popular? Well, who doesn’t like the combination of contributing to their health and supporting a good cause? And who doesn’t love a rockin’ dance party?! There’s a reason why Zumba Fitness has become such an international fitness hit… because IT’S FUN! So the idea of having a dance party to raise money is a genius move, if you ask me. Every element of a Zumbathon is doing good for the people involved – raising money, promoting awareness, increasing heart rates for good health, decreasing pounds and inches, and creating smiles by bringing people together. What’s not to love!?

MDA Zumbathon

As a licensed Zumba Instructor, it is a great honor to be a part of something so all-around positive. I recently enjoyed hosting my first Zumbathon and it was a truly amazing experience. After getting approval from Zumba Fitness, LLC, I teamed up with our fabulous sponsor, Gold’s Gym, and we raised money and awareness for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. 100% of the proceeds went to the MDA. With support and planning help from Tammy Wallace with the MDA, David Spence with Gold’s Gym and my wonderful aunt, Susan McPherson, with the Greater Columbia Chamber, we were able to host the Midlands’ first Zumbathon to offer both Aqua and Land Zumba! That’s right, not only did we dance in the studio, we danced in the pool! Our Zumba dance party created smiles, worked muscles, and, best of all, raised money for an awesome charity.

My Mom & Aunt ready for the Zumbathon Dance Party!

So if you love to dance, love a rockin’ party and love to do good for people and your community, a Zumbathon is the way to go!

Shannon & David Making a Muscle for the MDA at our Zumbathon

Making a muscle with the Gold's Gym Team for the MDA Zumbathon