ILLINOIS (WCIA) — State Police said thanks to one organization, some families of fallen officers have had a weight lifted, financially.
In a Facebook post, Illinois State Police officials said the Tunnel to Towers Foundation has paid off the mortgages of five fallen Illinois officers.
The New York-based organization was formed to honor firefighter Stephen Siller, “who laid down his life to save others on September 11, 2001,” according to the foundation’s website. They also honor those in the military and first responders who also made sacrifices.
The mortgage-payoffs are part of the organization’s 2020 Season of Hope campaign. They aimed for 36 mortgage-free homes in 36 days.
Officials said the families of Illinois State Troopers Gerald “Jerry” Ellis and Christopher Lambert were part of the five Illinois families helped by the group. The additional families were those of Chicago Police Officers Samuel Jimenez, Eduardo Marmolejo and Conrad Gary.
Troopers Ellis and Lambert were both killed after being hit by cars in 2019.
Ellis’ wife, Stacy Voight said having their mortgage paid off is honoring his legacy of service. “Jerry always made sure our family was safe and all our needs were met,” said Voight, “It feels that way even after his death. It’s a reminder of the man Jerry was and the career he chose. I am extremely grateful for this program. The holiday season has been clouded with sadness, but this program is a ray of sunshine.”
Lambert’s widow, Halley Martin said she was overwhelmed when she found out about her mortgage being paid off. “This time of year has been hard for me because Christmas is my favorite holiday and not spending it with Christ last year and this year weighs heavily on me,” Halley said. “Finding out Tunnel to Towers had paid my mortgage was the best Christmas wish I could have dreamed of. I still can’t believe it is happening.”
So far, there have been nine homes paid off by the foundation in the 2020 Season of Hope. Again, they are looking to pay off 36 homes in 36 days. “By the end of 2020, Tunnel to Towers will have delivered 250 mortgage-free homes across the United States,” said officials.
For more information on the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, click here.