Tunnel to Towers Foundation aids wounded veterans - KMSP-TV

Tunnel to Towers Foundation aids wounded veterans

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ATLANTA -

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation was started in memory of New York firefighter Stephen Siller. On September 11th, he ran from the Battery Tunnel in Brooklyn to Ground Zero in full gear, before losing his life that day.

The Tunnel to Towers motto is "Let Us Do Good."  In collaboration with actor Gary Sinise, who played Lt. Dan in the film Forrest Gump, and his foundation, they are building for America's bravest.

"My father was a Marine. His dad was a Marine, and it just felt right," said Marine Todd Love.

The 22-year-old from Acworth proudly served his country in Afghanistan until October 25th of 2010. While searching compounds in the Helmand province, the Marine corporal stepped on an improvised explosive device, or an IED.

"With risk, eventually probability will catch up to you. Everyday I was expecting it. I wasn't really in complete shock when I woke up in the hospital," said Love.

The explosion cost the Kell High School graduate his left arm and both of his legs, but it had little effect on his spirit.

"How I even made it in the first place…I guess, higher purpose," explained Love.

Sgt. First Class Michael Schlitz was burned over 85 percent of his body and lost both of his arms, when his Humvee hit an IED while serving with the US Army in Iraq in 2007.  

"What I was thinking is, this is it. This is where it ends for me," said Schlitz.

It didn't end that day in Baghdad, and the flames on his third set of prosthetic arms, that's no coincidence.

"You always get to pick and choose what you decorate it with. So I thought it was pretty smart just to kind of represent because it is a big part of me," said Schlitz.

Both of these wounded warriors participated in the Tunnel to Towers 5K Run in New York last month. After fighting for freedom on the other side of the world, back home, it's freedom and independence that they continue to strive for every day.

"It's kind of like being a child, you know. I'm having to learn everything all over again," said Love.

"Oh he can run a 5K, that's what they see when I'm out in public. But when I'm behind closed doors, I still need a lot of help. There's a lot of things I can't do," said Schlitz.

This is where the Tunnel to Towers Foundation comes in.

"A lot of the FDNY firefighters who are on the board of this foundation feel like the war started in New York and since America was there for them after 9/11, they want to be there for these wounded service members who are going to Iraq in Afghanistan," said Chris Kuban of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

Through corporate donations and fundraisers like their upcoming concert in Atlanta, the foundation builds completely customized smart homes for service members like Love and Schlitz, who came home with devastating injuries.

"It will make me more independent so I can give my mother some down time. It's not just for me, it's what I can do for my mother as well. You know, it's freedom," said Schlitz.

"Sometimes I feel like I don't deserve all of this and I can tell you that other wounded warriors feel the same way and it's kind of overwhelming. But it makes you feel very, very fortunate you know. Very fortunate," said Love.

Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band will be performing November 3rd at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park. The proceeds from the show will help build a smart home for Cpl. Todd Love and SFC Michael Schlitz.
          
If you would like to go, click here for all of the ticket information, and other ways you can help these wounded warriors.

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