Sep. 10—The Tunnel to Towers Foundation announced Friday that it had paid off the mortgages of 21 fallen first responders in honor of the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Among those mortgages was that Joplin Cpl. Ben Cooper.
Cooper and Officer Jake Reed were mortally wounded March 8 by a suspect who struggled with them when they tried to arrest him for peace disturbance at a retail store near Range Line Road. The suspect, Anthony Felix, 40, who had a history of assault and resisting police, was later killed by a Joplin police officer after a chase cornered Felix and he continued to spray bullets at police. A third Joplin officer, Officer Rick Hirshey, was seriously wounded that day.
The others whose mortgages were paid off by the Foundation based in Staten Island, New York, include police officers, state troopers, fire fighters and emergency medical technicians, as well as an officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The Foundation's Fallen First Responder Program pays off mortgages for the families of law enforcement officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty and leave behind young children. Last year, the program expanded to support the families of first responders who have lost their lives to 9/11 illnesses.
Tunnel to Towers was established in memory of fallen New York Firefighter Stephen Siller, who died Sept. 11, 2001.
"When America was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, my brother and so many others rushed headfirst into danger and laid down their lives, trying to save as many people as they could. Twenty-one years later, I am proud to keep my brother Stephen's memory alive by supporting the families of these heroes who have also sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. Their dedication and their sacrifice will never be forgotten, and the families they left behind will always have the support of Tunnel to Towers," Foundation Chairman & CEO Frank Siller said in a statement.
The Foundation announced this week the establishment of the Tunnel to Towers 9/11 Institute, an effort to educate and inform future generations of the 9/11 fallen and the heroic actions that took place on Sept. 11, 2001.