SAN FRANCISCO – An organization that rose from the ashes of September 11th is still helping first responders, including here in the Bay Area. Tunnels to towers made a tremendous impact on the family of Jason Cortez, the San Francisco firefighter who lost his life in October last year.
The loss of San Francisco firefighter Jason Cortez still floods his wife and two young sons.
Cortez died in October 2020 when he fallen in a training exercise. Tunnel to Towers, a nonprofit founded in honor of a firefighter who sacrificed his life in New York on September 11th, wants to take a load off the Cortez family.
Anyone familiar with real estate in the Bay Area knows how expensive a home can be. Tunnel to Towers stepped forward and paid off the mortgage on the house Cortez shared with his family.
“This is officially presented to you, a letter stating that the mortgage on the house has been fully paid,” said Andrew McClure of Tunnel to Towers.
He said it was his honor to offer some peace of mind to a family who have sacrificed so much. “It is our duty to see that at least one burden is taken off this family,” said McClure. “So we pretty much take the biggest amount you have each month: the mortgage payment on the house.”
The loss to Patty Cortez is still painful, she says she is grateful to Tunnel to Towers for allowing her to focus on the family rather than the finances. “It’s a relief that we can just focus on our healing,” said Patty Cortez. “And it’s so nice to know that there are people out there who continue to support us. Even people we don’t know. “
The death of Jason Cortez also devastated his fellow firefighters, who continue to stand by the Cortez family and take inspiration from the way Jason lived his life. “It was really hard to go on without you, but I’ll keep trying to do it the way you’ve always done,” said San Francisco firefighter Brian Sullivan. “With that big goofy smile, infectious laugh and all that love.”
Tunnel to Towers says although its origins lie in 9/11, its mission has grown. The organization says it will have raised $ 250 million in funding in the 20 years since its inception by the end of this year to provide 450 homes to the families of first responders and military personnel.
“Your mission is really simple: ‘While we’re here, let’s do good,'” said McClure. “And we do good for others, whether it’s fallen first responders and their families, catastrophically injured soldiers, Gold Star widows, 9/11-related illnesses … deaths are all about getting it right.”
Tunnel to Towers says in an ideal world they would be taken out of business without needing their services. But they say they know we don’t live in this ideal world, so they said they made a commitment to keep helping those in need.
If you would like to help the Tunnel To Towers Foundation, click the link here.