The nonprofit Tunnel to Towers Foundation recently paid off 21 mortgages for families of military members and law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
The organization has set up the families of 17 military members and four law enforcement officers to live in their homes free and clear, according to a Tunnels to Towers Foundation press release.
Its chairman and CEO, Frank Siller, surprised the families on-stage with the announcement during the FOX Nation Patriot Awards on Nov. 17. Family members could be seen tearing up as he revealed the decision on their mortgages was coming sooner than expected.
After the announcement, one woman whose mortgage was paid was asked on-stage how it was going to change her life.
“There is nothing more terrifying than losing your best friend and the person who takes care of you and your children,” she said. “In this moment, I never have to worry about the shelter for my children, the place where they come home, and their love, safety, and the enduring remembrance of their father.”
Included are the families of seven fallen Soldiers, six Marines, three Sailors, and one Airman.
The fallen law enforcement officers include two sheriff’s deputies, one from Florida and the other from Oregon. Another was a Pennsylvania K-9 officer and the other was a Tennessee detective lieutenant.
The mortgages were paid off as part of two programs run by the nonprofit. The first, Gold Star Family Home Program, targets the families of troops killed in the line of duty. The other, Fallen First Responder Home Program, handles the families of law enforcement officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty or from 9/11-related illness, leaving behind young children.
The nonprofit operates several programs in honor of Stephen Siller, a firefighter who died in a tunnel leading to the World Trade Center while trying to rescue victims of the 9/11 attack, according to its website.