Over a decade ago, Mark Ryan began a journey that would later become his legacy at the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
On September 11, 2001, Probationary firefighter Mark Ryan was serving with FDNY Engine 249 when the World Trade Center was attacked. Mark responded to the attacks alongside fellow firefighters, many of whom did not make it home and many of whom now suffer from 9/11 related illnesses. Mark spent a full week away from home following that tragic day, and spent months aiding in the cleanup of Lower Manhattan.
In 2011, for the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Mark Ryan decided to participate in the Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk alongside his wife, Jan, and his children, Zach and Meaghan. From that point on, Mark followed the foundation and kept up with the work being done to help America’s heroes, and, after his retirement, felt compelled to help in any way he could to help first responders and their families. Through joining the FDNY’s ceremonial unit, Mark was able to make many connections that eventually led him to be a part of the Tunnel to Towers Never Forget Walk to honor the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Inspired by his love of cooking, Mark accompanied Frank Siller and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s team on their walk and cooked for them and other volunteers, including making specialized meals to accommodate different dietary needs. Fueled by the excitement of the Never Forget walk, Mark, Jan, Meaghan and Kaitlyn signed up to participate in the 2021 New York City 5K Run and Walk.
Unable to run after undergoing cancer surgery in 2022, Mark and his family volunteered at the 2022 race, with every intention of running in 2023. That same year, Mark’s daughter, Meaghan, surprised him with a donation to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation from the theater group she works for, WRC Theater Company, who will be making another donation this summer in Mark’s honor.
After Mark’s sudden passing in January 2023, his wife and daughters made the decision that they would continue to run and fundraise in his honor. In his absence, the Ryan family has found comfort and support in family members and friends in their community, and have continued to turn their grief into acts of goodness that would have made Mark incredibly proud.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation is eternally grateful for the contributions the Ryan family has made not only to our cause, but to our T2T Family. The memories shared with Mark will be forever cherished and his legacy will continue to live on through his family and their determination to DO GOOD.