NEW YORK, NY -- A foundation created to honor a firefighter killed on Sept. 11 has raised enough money to pay off the mortgages and make repairs on the homes of two slain New York Police Department officers, foundation executives announced Wednesday.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation said $860,000 has been donated, and another $150,000 has been pledged for the families of Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, killed late last month as they sat in their patrol car on a Brooklyn street.
The widows of the men, along with other family members, attended the announcement, along with an audience made up primarily of police officers including members of the men's precinct. Other speakers included police and fire department officials, along with former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
"We would like to extend our greatest gratitude and appreciation to everyone who gave their generous contribution," said Liu's widow, Pei Xia Chen. In a tear-choked voice, she added, "To all my extended blue family, be safe out there and appreciate life each day."
Ramos' sister, Sindy, said there weren't "any words to express the gratitude that my sister-in-law and I have for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
"Nothing will ever bring my brother back, but just to know my sister-in-law and the boys can sleep just a little bit better amidst this tragedy" means a great deal, she said.
The foundation says the money will be used to pay off mortgages and make repairs to the homes, with any extra going to the two families. They reached out to the banks to get the payoff amounts.
Foundation CEO Frank Siller said there had been over 10,000 donations, coming from all over the country and internationally.
The foundation is named for his youngest brother Stephen, killed at the World Trade Center.
Foundation to pay off slain NYC police officers' mortgages