An Army widow whose husband died in Iraq was given a mortgage-free home in New Jersey by the non-profit organization Tunnels to Towers.
“It means everything,” Stephanie Wildrick told “America’s Newsroom” host Bill Hemmer on Wednesday alongside the Tunnel to Towers CEO, Frank Siller.
Frank Siller founded Tunnel to Towers in honor of his brother Steven, who ran through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel on 9/11 with 60 pounds of gear and died trying to save New Yorkers in the Twin Towers.
Stephanie’s husband, Ronald H. Wildrick Jr., was killed by an IED while serving in Afghanistan in 2011. He left behind his loving wife and two daughters Kaylee and Leah.
“As an only parent, you worry about the future of your kids and not knowing if you’ll be able to afford your own home,” Stephanie said of her life after her husband’s death.
Frank Siller said that the Wildricks “paid a tremendous price,” and understood that although a home could never replace the loss of their beloved husband and father, he hoped it could take some of the financial burden off of Stephanie’s shoulders.
“Her husband gave his life for our freedom, independence and safety,” Siller said. “I think it’s important as a country we make sure we take care of these families left behind.”
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation, with the help of other organizations, frequently helps support families who have lost loved ones serving the country, as well as injured veterans. Last week, Siller announced that the Foundation was seeking donations to pay for a home for the family of Cpl. Jose ‘Speedy’ Espericueta, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in the border town of Mission, Texas.
Siller also said he’s reaching out to the families of nine Americans who lost their lives in Iraq, and five who died in Syria, in an attempt to make a difference in their lives as he did for the Wildricks.
During an emotional ceremony on Monday, the youngest Wildrick daughter, Leah, said she knew her father would be happy with the work Tunnels to Towers did for her family.
“It is amazing knowing that my sister and mom will have a place to call home,” the girl said. “One thing I know for sure is that my dad is looking down right now and very proud of what this organization is doing for us.”
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