The Tunnel to Towers Foundation carried out its 22nd annual 5K Run & Walk in NYC — and participants were proud to be a part of it.
The 5K, which travels through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel to Ground Zero, honors first responders and service members who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Forty thousand people from all over the country gathered in New York City on Sunday to do just that, the foundation said.
Tunnel to Towers Foundation Chairman Frank Siller echoed in an interview with Fox News Digital how every family and participant has "their own ‘Tunnel to Towers’ inside our run."
"And that's what I love about it most," he said. "You can feel the energy. It's beautiful."
Participants shared with Fox News Digital their reasons for running, as well as their messages of patriotism.
Mike from Seaford, New York — who is currently serving with the Marine Corps 2/25 Empire Battalion — said he ran to honor the people he knew personally who died on 9/11.
"Feels awesome to start in Brooklyn, feels awesome to finish here and [to be] around so many awesome patriots," he said.
"God bless America."
Christina Vercillo, Melissa Cerimele and Kristin Mangine, who were Tunnel to Towers 5K first-timers from New Jersey, ran in honor of their grandfather, a former New York City firefighter. He died in January.
"You can feel the energy. It's beautiful."
"We’re hoping to make this an annual tradition," Vercillo said.
"It was so exciting," Cerimele said.
"When you get out of the tunnel, it was so surreal with all the American flags and seeing all the people who’ve passed from 9/11. I was fighting back tears."
Newark, New Jersey’s Ladder 11 Captain Frank DeOliveira took on the 5K with his family and friends, including his two children.
They ran in memory of firefighter Augie Acabou, who died in the line of duty in July.
DeOliveira described how "amazing" it feels to support his fellow first responders.
"They pay the ultimate price and we’re here to back them up," he said.
"Tunnel to Towers is amazing and they help out everybody, so it’s beautiful to be a part of that."
Joe Liffey, a 9/11 first responder from Central Florida, revisited the site where he stood with the U.S. Marshal Service on Sept. 11, 2001, to participate in the 5K with his daughter and niece, Victoria Liffey.
"It means the world to me," he said. "We’re remembering everybody who’s experienced trauma and died here today. We’re here to support you and remember you."
Victoria Liffey’s father was also a 9/11 first responder with the NYPD.
The 21-year-old Binghamton University senior shared that she plans to follow in her family’s footsteps by working with law enforcement in the future.
"I saw the work that he did and for everything that happened, so I just wanted to show my support," Liffey said.
"It’s nice to see how many people appreciate and remember what happened that day and that we’ll truly never forget," she added. "It’s just an honor being here."
Hofstra University lacrosse players Julia West and Chloe Sedlar, both from Maryland, ran the 5K in support of their many New York-based teammates.
"It’s definitely an accomplishment to support all the first responders," Sedlar said.
"This is just a small thing we could do to support them."
West thanked all the first responders for the sacrifices they’ve made.
"We’re all so grateful," she said.
First-time participant Troy Stasko from Port Jefferson, New York, said the event offered a "great environment," despite the rainy weather, and gave his appreciation for America’s first responders.
"We’re all here to support you," he said.
"Keep up the good work."