Tunnel to Towers Pays Off Mortgages for 22 Fallen First Responder Families in Observance of the 4th of July

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation has paid off the mortgages in full for the families with young children of 22 of our nation’s fallen first responders across 16 states, stretching from California to Maine. 

These are the names of the 22 heroic fallen first responders who tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.

  • Louisville Kentucky Metro Police Officer Zachary Cottongim
  • Boone County Missouri Fire Protection District Assistant Fire Chief Bryant Gladney 
  • Jefferson Township Ohio Firefighter/EMT Thomas Rees 
  • North Carolina State Highway Patrol Master Trooper John Horton 
  • Mesquite Texas Police Department Police Officer Richard Lee Houston II 
  • Texas Department of Public Safety Special Agent Anthony Salas
  • Harris County Texas Constable Kareem Atkins
  • Sterling Illinois Fire Department Captain Garrett Ramos
  • Chicago Illinois Police Officer Paul Nauden
  • Wayne County Illinois Sheriff’s Deputy Sheriff Sean Riley 
  • Sayville New York  Fire Department Fire Chief Lawrence Sesso 
  • FDNY Lieutenant Joseph Maiello 
  • Iowa State Trooper Theodore Benda
  • Henry County Georgia Police Officer Paramhans Desai
  • Alamo Georgia Police Officer Dylan Harrison
  • Wakefield Massachusetts Fire Lieutenant Robert Ford Sr. 
  • New Hampshire State Police Staff Sgt. Jesse Sherrill 
  • Hancock County Maine Sheriff’s Deputy Luke Gross
  • Pascagoula Mississippi Fire Department Captain Jacob Latch
  • South Metro Colorado Fire Rescue Firefighter Anthony Palato
  • Louisiana Corrections Officer John Edward Grinston Keith
  • Los Angeles California Fire Department Firefighter Kelly Wong

A few of the families shared with us the impact that Tunnel to Towers has had on their lives after being relieved of the burden of a mortgage: 

Richard was the border that held our family puzzle together. That puzzle was shattered into a thousand pieces when we lost Richard,“ said Shelley Houston, surviving spouse of Mesquite Police Department Police Officer Richard Lee Houston II.

By removing this huge burden, your Foundation is allowing me to focus on my family’s needs rather than worrying about how I am going to pay the mortgage month to month. The financial impacts of your generosity are obvious, but I can only begin to explain how it impacts the rest of our lives.” 

In the midst of the worst reality I could imagine, Tunnel to Towers stepped in and granted me the most unexpected and generous gift. When everything around me was crashing down, they came in and gave me and my girls stability and hope,” said Brittney Ramos, surviving spouse of Sterling Fire Department Fire Captain Garret Ramos.

Fire Captain Ramos was battling a house fire on December 4, 2021, when the floor beneath him collapsed. He was pulled from the rubble but  passed away from his injuries. 

One of my favorite events each year is participating in the New York City Tunnel to Towers race. For years I have supported and admired what the Tunnel to Towers Foundation has been able to accomplish,” said Irene Maiello, surviving spouse of New York City Fire Department Firefighter Lieutenant Joseph Maiello. “I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday, and was grateful that my boyfriend at the time, Firefighter Joe Maiello, was one of the lucky ones who made it back home unlike Firefighter Steven Siller and so many others who did not. I never thought that my family would be on the receiving end of these efforts. I was at a loss for words and stunned when I found out that the Tunnel to Towers Foundation would be paying our mortgage. My children and I would do anything to have Joe back, but this grand gesture takes a financial burden off our shoulders and we are forever grateful. Thank you.

Firefighter Lieutenant Maiello was found unresponsive at his fire station, and he was pronounced deceased at the scene from an apparent heart attack. Maiello was a 21-year member of the FDNY and was promoted to Lieutenant the year prior.

As we celebrate America’s freedom this Fourth of July, I am honored to give these fallen first responder families the financial freedom of owning their home, mortgage-free,” said Tunnel to Towers Chairman and CEO Frank Siller. “While you are celebrating with flags and fireworks this weekend, please take a moment to think of these heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our communities safe and those who will continue to put their lives at risk every day.”

Tunnel to Towers’ goal is to deliver 1,000 mortgage-free homes across the country to the families with young children of our nation’s fallen military heroes and fallen first responder heroes, and to catastrophically injured veterans by the end of 2022.

We are dedicated to honoring the sacrifice of FDNY Firefighter Stephen Siller, who laid down his life to save others on September 11, 2001. For more than 20 years the Foundation has supported our nation’s first responders, veterans, and their families by providing these heroes and the families they leave behind with mortgage-free homes.

18 Comments. Leave new

  • Kathy Gunderson
    July 6, 2022 12:29 pm

    It’s an honor to participate in such a worthy cause. Thanks to all the fallen heroes for their sacrifice for our safety. I will never forget their service and bravery.

  • Donna Chiodi
    July 6, 2022 12:42 pm

    Amazing organization. The giving is always personal and not just a grand jesture
    The Stillers are a wonderful caring family who have dealt with their own loss. It takes a village and proud to be part of it

  • Carol Pecot
    July 6, 2022 1:03 pm

    God bless y’all for helping these heroes. Best $11 per month we’ve ever spent. We love ya’ll, keep up the good work. You inspire others to do more …

  • Anita M Evans
    July 6, 2022 1:19 pm

    I am so very proud to be a part of this organization! They do a tremendous service to so many deserving people … for only $11 a month.

  • Cynthia and Bill Harris
    July 6, 2022 4:11 pm

    Thank you T2T for helping the Kareem Adkins families in my area. I’m glad we donate monthly to this great charity.

  • Jackie Russell
    July 6, 2022 5:53 pm

    I am so proud of the work T2T does for the heroes who give their lives or their body parts in the line of duty! Keep up the great work! So glad I can be a small part in this effort!

  • Roger Duzian
    July 6, 2022 6:04 pm

    It may not be much as an individual contribution, we do what we can afford, and we love the idea of honoring our first responders, wouldn’t want to imagine what our country would look like without your sacrifices.
    We love you all.

  • Roger Duzian
    July 6, 2022 6:06 pm

    T2T, thank you for all that you do….

  • Keiko Palmero
    July 6, 2022 6:31 pm

    Thank you for all you do!!! It’s good to know my small donation is helping in such great ways that your organization does for our hero’s!!!

  • Art and Mary M Patek
    July 6, 2022 6:45 pm

    God Bless our Heroes.

  • Mr & Mrs Mott
    July 7, 2022 5:58 am

    So happy to be able to be a small part of this organization. Encouraging to see the actual families being helped.
    We will continue to donate to this cause. Blessings to these families.

  • Claudia and Wayne Crosby
    July 7, 2022 12:06 pm

    Thank you so much for this feedback…we have every confidence that our monthly contributions are being utilized wisely, but it is also great to put the faces and stories of recipients in the mix. We are so thankful for your organization.

  • Great job. Idk what the circumstances were in regards to the corrections officer, but those guys are easily forgotten and I’m glad we got to take care of one of their families. They are the ones who have to put up with the criminals and trash on the inside and not all of them make it out ok. Keep doing the good lords work.

  • Jane Easley
    July 8, 2022 8:20 am

    God bless and forever be with all our first responders and their families. I am honored to be a part of this organization.

  • Daniel O’Malley
    July 8, 2022 5:12 pm

    I had no problem contributing what I could to these heroes who sacrificed everything to those in trouble and leaving families in need after their tragic deaths.

  • As always, I am grateful to see what you continue to do for so many of our Brothers !
    Retired Lt FDNY I attended your ground breaking in Paso Co Florida for over 100 homes.! Keep up the good work !!

  • Lafayette T. DuBose
    July 17, 2022 1:15 am

    God Bless You and Your Foundation for what you do.

  • Glenn and Helen Cade
    July 24, 2022 7:25 am

    Bob was such a nice person , with a positive attitude. I will miss seeing him at the gym.


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