The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, based in New York, announced it will pay off the mortgage on the home of a Sumter County deputy who was slain in the line of duty on Feb. 25.
Cpl. Andrew Gillette, 36, was shot and killed while …
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Cpl. Andrew Gillette, 36, was shot and killed while trying to serve a detention order and eviction notice at a Dalzell residence.
Leaders at Tunnel to Towers Foundation wanted to help lift the weight off the shoulders of the family. Gillette spent more than half his life serving his country and community in the U.S. Air Force and law enforcement.
"We do this for families all over the country, and if we see a first responder who was killed in the line of duty, we step in," Tunnel to Towers Foundation Spokeswoman Caroline Magyarits said. "We became aware of Cpl. Gillette's story, and he had a wife and a young son, and the foundation decided that we were going to step in and take this burden off her shoulders."
Established in memory of a fallen 9/11 New York City Fire Department firefighter, the Tunnel to Tower Foundation's mission is to honor the sacrifice of FDNY Firefighter Stephen Siller, who laid down his life to save others on Sept. 11, 2001. The foundation has spent more than $250 million to honor and support first responders, veterans and their families across the country.
The foundation created the Fallen First Responder Home program in 2015, which pays off the mortgages for the families of law enforcement officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty who leave behind young children.
"These police officers, firefighters and all these first responders all over the country, they put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe," Magyarits said. "If something happens to them, we do it as our responsibility to give back and take care of their family the way they have taken care of us."
Gillette is survived by his wife, Marie Gillette, and 11-year-old son.
"The Tunnel to Towers Foundation is an amazing foundation that does great work for families at the most devastating times in their lives. They are incredibly compassionate and have a genuine concern for the loved ones of fallen first responders," Marie Gillette said in a statement via the foundation. "The Fallen First Responder Home program is ensuring that I will be able to keep the home that Andrew worked so hard to provide for us. It also lessens the burden as JohnCurtis and I begin the journey to rebuild our lives without him."
Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis said he and his fellow deputies are comforted in seeing the support that has come through after the tragic loss of their brother.
"To know that his family will have one less worry because of others' generosity reduces our worry for their future," he said.
You can help the Tunnel to Towers Foundation continue to provide mortgage-free homes to the families of heroes like Gillette by donating $11 per month at www.tunnel2towers.org.
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