The Tunnel to Towers Foundation is honored to announce 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 Sergeant Chris Ward.

Ward died in the line of duty on April 28 responding to a welfare check. Upon entry, a shooter in the house opened fire, striking him and one other deputy. Ward was airlifted to a Johnson City, Tennessee, hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Ward is survived by his wife, Candice and two daughters, Molly and Katie.

In addition to paying off the mortgage on the Ward home, Tunnel to Towers paid off the mortgage on the homes of six other North Carolina families.

This 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.

 The 50 homes are in 18 different states, stretching from coast to coast and will help the families of fallen Police Officers, Firefighters, Deputies, and service members of nearly every branch of military service.

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