John Lofstock, executive director of NAG, welcomed attendees to the conference Sunday evening.
Lofstock introduced keynote speaker Frank Siller, Chairman and CEO, Tunnels to Towers Foundation, who spoke about the work he does through the foundation for wounded veterans and 9/11 survivors in memory of his brother Stephen Siller.
“For years we have discussed finding a speaker that could come in and talk to us about some of the good that has come out of so much pain, so much senseless brutality,” said Lofstock. “Thanks to John Schaninger and his wife Shelli, we were able to hook up with Frank and Tunnel To Towers earlier this year, and I’m sure you will be inspired to help, to step up and make a difference.”
Stephen Siller was an off-duty NYC Fireman when he heard about the 9/11 attacks. He drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed. Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped 60 pounds of firefighter gear to his back and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he ultimately lost his life while saving others.
“We decided very early on that we needed to start a foundation in his name,” said Siller. “We know this is the right thing to do.”
To date, the foundation has spent over $125 million for U.S. veterans and first responders. Among its programs, over $30 million has been allocated to the construction of smart homes for injured service members.
The Gold Star Family Home Program, which launched September 2018, provides a 100% mortgage-free home to widowed spouses with young children. The foundation is committed to raising $250 million to provide 1,000 homes to Gold Star Families.
“Without the goodness of America, we can’t take care of the greatest of America,” said Siller. “Stephen was my hero. … His body was never recovered, but his spirit will never die.”
Attendees closed out the night at the NAG Hospitality Suite.
On Monday, Sept. 10, attendees will begin the day with a complimentary breakfast and educational sessions on two burning issue topics:
- The Importance of Family Values in the Convenience Store Industry
- Local Lobbying: Why You Voice Matters More Than Ever
Retailers will also take part in Information Exchanges, known as the ‘heart and soul’ of NAG and part of what makes it unique.
Following the information exchanges, attendees will have the option to attending a golf outing at Rush Creek Golf Club or a tour of local convenience stores, including Bobby & Steve’s Auto World, Holiday Stationstores and Metro Petro Gas.
The NAG Conference runs through Wednesday, Sept. 11.