A New York City charity honoring fallen first responders is coming to the aid of the family of Worcester Fire Lieutenant Jason Menard, who was killed in an early morning fire Wednesday.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation is raising money to pay off the mortgage on the Menard’s family home. Jason Menard, a 39-year-old father of three young children, died while battling a four alarm house fire.
Menard was searching for a baby reported to be inside the three family home when he and other firefighters became trapped on the third floor.
Worcester Fire Chief Michael J. Lavoie said that Menard “heroically and selflessly saved his crew, helping a probationary firefighter to the stairs and then returning to rescue another trapped firefighter [and] assisting him out the window.”
He leaves his wife, Tina, their three children, and his parents, officials said.
Tunnel to Towers was established to honor Stephen Gerard Siller, a 34-year-old New York City firefighter who was killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
The organization’s mission expanded to include assistance to the families of fallen police officers with small children after New York City police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot and killed while sitting in their police cruiser.
The foundation decided to help the fallen officers’ families, after learning that they were having a hard time paying their mortgages.
The foundation has paid off more than 150 mortgages, Siller said. Among them was fallen Weymouth Police Sergeant Michael Chesna, who was shot and killed while responding to a report of an erratic driver last year.
“We raised that money in very short order,” Frank Siller, chief executive of the nonprofit that honors his brother, said. “And I think we’re going to do it again.”
Tunnel to Towers will formally announce their efforts during a press conference on Friday morning at the Worcester fire station at 80 Mckeon Road, the foundation said in a press release Wednesday.
Siller said his goal is to have the mortgage paid off by Christmas.
“I couldn’t think of a better Christmas gift to give this family then to have this mortgage paid off by Christmas,” Siller said.
Adam Sennott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.