Chris Ward

Chris Ward

WATAUGA — The Tunnel to Towers Foundation announced it has paid in full the mortgages on the homes of 50 fallen first responder and Gold Star families, including the family of Watauga County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Chris Ward.

The Watauga Democrat and The Blowing Rocket previously reported that Ward, 36, and Deputy Logan Fox, 25, died on April 28 during a standoff. The confrontation began with a welfare check and lasted for nearly 13 hours. The standoff resulted in five deaths.

Caroline Magyarits, Tunnels to Towers Foundation manager of media relations, said the organization monitors line of duty deaths across the country.

“We became aware of Sgt. Ward’s story within hours of his passing and made contact with his family in early May,” Magyarits said. “Sgt. Ward dedicated his life to serving his community, and it is an honor to provide stability and support to his wife and two children with this mortgage payoff.”

The Oct. 7 announcement is the largest one-day mortgage payoff in Tunnel to Towers history and was made possible by the outpouring of support the foundation received as America observed the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, according to the organization.

Because of support for The Tunnel to Towers Foundation through the organization’s Never Forget programs, these 50 families will never have to make another mortgage payment again.

“This year, Americans came together to remember the incredible loss of life that occurred 20 years ago when evil struck at the heart of our great nation,” said Tunnel to Towers CEO and Chairman Frank Siller. “The Tunnel to Towers Foundation promised to NEVER FORGET what happened on that day and so many people across the country have joined us on our mission of doing good by giving back to our heroes, both living and fallen. Thanks to the generosity of this great nation, the Ward family and 49 additional families will never have to worry about making another mortgage payment and will always have a place to call home.”

The 50 homes are in 18 different states and will help the families of fallen police officers, firefighters, deputies and service members of nearly every branch of military service.

Those having their mortgage paid off include:

  • 20 Police Officers
  • Including 15 who responded to Ground Zero and lost their lives to 9/11 illness
  • 12 Firefighter
  • Including five who responded to Ground Zero and lost their lives to 9/11 illness
  • 1 Sheriff’s Deputy
  • 1 State Trooper
  • 1 Conservation Officer
  • 6 U.S. Army
  • 3 U.S. Navy
  • 3 U.S. Marine Corps
  • 3 U.S. Air Force

Sgt. Ward’s family is the first Watauga County family to be included in a Tunnel to Towers programs, according to Magyarits.

To learn more about these heroes and to see a full list of the families receiving mortgage payoffs go to

On Sept. 11, 2001, FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller laid down his life to save others when America was attacked. For 20 years, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation has honored Stephen’s legacy by supporting those who continue to risk life and limb in the line of duty.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation provides mortgage-free smart homes to the nation’s catastrophically injured veterans and first responders, and mortgage-free homes or mortgage payoffs to Gold Star and fallen first responder families with young children.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation promised to deliver 200 homes this year in honor of its 20th anniversary. By the end of the year, the organization will have delivered 450 homes across its programs.

For more information on Tunnel to Towers’ mission to support America’s veterans, fallen first responders and Gold Star families, community members can go to

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