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Tunnel To Towers Meets Goal To Pay Off Mortgages Of Slain NYPD Officers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation has met its goal.

The foundation raised the more than $800,000 needed to fully pay off the mortgages of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were shot and killed in the line of duty on Dec. 20 in Brooklyn.

The officers' widows, Pei Xia Chen and Maritza Ramos, met for the first time at a news conference Wednesday to accept the donation.

"We're going to pay off your mortgages immediately," said the foundation's chairman and CEO, Frank Siller as he presented them with the donations.

Tunnel To Towers Meets Goal To Pay Off Mortgages Of Slain NYPD Officers

Chen expressed her appreciation and told the police officers in the audience, "To all my extended blue family, be safe out there and appreciate life each day."

Ramos' sister, Sindy, said the family is very grateful.

"Nothing will ever bring my brother back, but just to know that my sister-in-law and the boys can sleep just a little bit better amidst this tragedy, fills a little bit of that gap," she said.

More than 10,000 people donated to the cause, Siller announced Wednesday.

About 50 percent of the donations came from outside the New York area, COO John Hodge told 1010 WINS before the announcement.

"It's just been incredible the outpouring of support," Hodge said.

One of the donations came from two young sisters in Wisconsin -- 7-year-old Victoria and 9-year-old Gretchen each donated the $25 they had received for Christmas.

Donations also came in from as far away as Italy, Canada, Ireland, England and Australia.

The foundation raised $860,000 cash and another $150,000 was pledged, bringing the total to over $1 million, 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria reported.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani was also on hand to thank the brave in blue, CBS2's Meg Baker reported.

"We love them because both families brought up men that were willing to sacrifice their lives, to keep us safe," he said. "We are in their debt."

Tunnel To Towers Meets Goal To Pay Off Mortgages Of Slain NYPD Officers

Any money left over after the mortgages are paid off will be used to make repairs to the homes and the rest will go to the two families, WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported.

"Every house, if you're a homeowner you know, every house could use some kind of work, and they're certainly no exception," Frank Siller told Haskell.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation was founded in memory of FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller. On 9/11, Siller abandoned his truck and ran through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel with all his gear toward the World Trade Center. He was killed when the South Tower collapsed.

Although donations are now closed for the Liu and Ramos families, you can still donate online to many other Tunnel to Towers causes that support first responders in need.

For more information or to donate, visit

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