Ten months after her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz, was killed, Gold Star widow Katie Celiz says she can breathe a little easier raising their daughter Shannon in their new ‘forever home’ after receiving a mortgage-free residence from the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation on Thursday.
“It feels amazing,” she said. “It still doesn’t quite seem real. It means everything to have all of the support that we have from Tunnel to Towers and our U.S. Army family. It’s overwhelming and beautiful that people can come together and do a beautiful thing for people they don’t even know.”
Tunnel To Towers Foundation was established in honor of firefighter Stephen Siller who lost his life in 9/11. The organization honors military and first responders “who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country.”
The nonprofit oversees various programs, including the Gold Star Family Home program. Launched in 2018, the Gold Star Family Home program provides mortgage-free homes to surviving spouses with young children.
To do so, the organization is committed to raising $250 million to provide 1,000 homes to Gold Star Families, according to Jack Oehm, retired battalion commander of the New York City Fire Department and a Tunnel To Towers board member.
“Our true heroes are those people that put on the uniform of our nation,” Oehm said. “While we know that we can’t bring the fallen heroes back to life, the Siller foundation realizes that we can ease their financial burden.”
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz was on patrol in Afghanistan in July 2018 when he was shot and killed.That was the seventh time the Purple Heart recipient had been deployed, and he served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The 32-year-old had served in the U.S. Army for 11 years.
He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield.
Read the rest of the story by Brittini Ray reported by www.savannahnow.com