Tony Lubrano wasn’t trying to build a big charitable foundation when he and some friends formed Warriors for a Cause in 2015, he said.
What started as a group of like-minded people and friends has since grown into a fund-raising collective that has raised hundreds of thousands for various charities.
“We believe in making things more significant and getting our hands dirty,” Tony Lubrano, president of Warriors for a Cause, said in an interview with Blank Slate Media.
Warriors for a Cause is a 501(c)(3) group based in Mineola that raises money to donate to other foundations and charities while getting heavily involved in event planning and community activities.
This Sunday the group will be busing hundreds of participants into downtown Manhattan for the Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk.
The event commemorates the service of Firefighter Stephen Siller, who perished at the World Trade Center on the day of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Siller had just gotten off a shift at Brooklyn Squad One when he heard news of the attack.
He returned to Squad One, got his gear and drove his truck to the Brooklyn entrance of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, which was already closed to traffic for security purposes.
Siller ran from the tunnel to the towers, where he died helping in the doomed buildings. The yearly 5K follows the footsteps of Siller on that day in 2001.
Aside from the 5K, Warriors for a Cause’s footprint in the Mineola community includes Night on the Town on Jericho Turnpike, which has raised hundreds of thousands for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and will be held this year on Tuesday, Oct. 17.
The Siller event on Sunday is one that is very personal to Lubrano.
Two years ago, Frank Siller decided to honor his late brother by walking 537-miles from the Pentagon to Ground Zero through six states in six weeks to honor and support first responders and their families.
Lubrano and 16 warriors were invited to be one of the 343 volunteers — one for every FDNY member who was lost in the attacks — to walk behind Siller for the beginning 13 miles on Aug. 1, the first day of the walk.
“My son was in the front group running with Frank and he said ‘Dad, that was the coolest thing in the world,'” Lubrano said. “For your son to look into your eyes and say something like that, makes these events worth it.”
Lubrano said there are three main goals in the event for the foundation: to raise money for the Stephen Siller Foundation, boost awareness of the event itself and participate in something he calls “guerilla philanthropy.”
“It’s about getting people involved and seeing for themselves what happened on that day and interacting with those first responders,” Lubrano said.
Warriors for a Cause raises funds to donate to the Stephen Siller Foundation by offering registration packages.
The packages include registration for the 5K, the event shirt, a Warriors team shirt, breakfast, round-trip transportation from Chaminade High School and lunch.
Lubrano said the experience attendees get on Sunday will be a talking point moving forward, adding to the exposure and awareness aside from Sunday.
“I think it’s a bucket list event,” Lubrano said. “It’s really an emotional event and people tell others ‘You won’t believe what I did this weekend.’”
In previous years, the only group larger than the Warriors was from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point.
Lubrano said having a turnout as large as as Warriors’ presence is always a point of pride in seeing the group’s philanthropic efforts come to fruition.
“There’s a tremendous amount of satisfaction when you see so many people outside Chaminade and you helped make it happen,” Lubrano said.