BY GABRIELE HOLTERMANN
Known for paying off the mortgages for families of officers killed in the line of duty, the Stephen A. Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation announced Friday it would extend the program to include heroic firefighters and officers in 36 cities during its 36-day “Season of Hope” campaign.
The first beneficiary of the program is NYPD Detective Dalsh Veve, who, in June 2017, sustained a traumatic brain injury after he was dragged for almost three blocks by a speeding vehicle driven by then 15-year-old suspected gang member Justine Murrell.
The injuries left Veve wheelchair-bound and he requires 24-hour care for the rest of his life. His primary caretaker is his wife Esther, a nurse.
Frank Siller, chairman and CEO of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, felt that his organization had to step up once they learned about Detective Veve’s tragedy.
“It is our duty and our responsibility to make sure that we are going to be there for the families that are paying these prices,” Siller said. “We better make sure that we are there for their families.”
NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea thanked the Tunnel to Towers Foundation for its tireless work supporting and honoring first responders on behalf of all the men and women of the New York City Police Department.
“I could not begin to describe how thankful we are. It is truly a symbol that we hope that we can come together not only as New Yorkers but as a nation to honor the sacrifices of our men and women on the front lines day in and day out,” he said.
He also addressed the fateful night that changed the life of the Veve family forever. “No person, no police officer, or anyone else deserves what happened that night. Dalsh is a truly remarkable shining member of our police department, and I couldn’t be more proud of him,” the commissioner added.
NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan recalled the night he met Esther Veve after her husband had been seriously injured in the line of duty. He said, “Probably the most amazing woman I’ve met in my life. Standing side by side with Detective Veve.”
Monahan reminded her that her family will be part of the “blue family” forever and always support her.
Esther Veve addressed her family’s challenges since her husband, who is wheelchair-bound, was so tragically injured.
“While it was easy to cut unnecessary expenses, certain topics were non-negotiable,” referring to their daughter. “Her school, her upbringing, certain things that Dalsh and I had always talked about; that I did not feel that she needed to make that sacrifice.”
Moved, she thanked the Tower to Tunnels Foundation for lifting a burden off her shoulder paying the mortgage. The nurse, who at times, has to take a leave of absence to care for her husband, said, “No more worries, no more concerns, no more monthly reminders. The peace of mind knowing if or when things are difficult, my family life will be less affected. The peace of mind knowing I have options to focus on what matters most,” referring to her husband’s rehabilitation and their daughter’s upbringing.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Tower Foundation was founded after FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller of Squad 1 in Brooklyn, who ran through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel on Sept. 11, 2001 with 60 pounds of gear strapped to his back, running towards the attacked World Trade Center. He was one of the 343 firefighters killed in the attack.
To support the vital work of the organization, visit tunnel2towers.org.