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Open House to benefit Tunnel To Towers Foundation

November 6, 2019
Lehigh Acres Citizen

Each year, Keller & Koczara Certified Public Accountants hosts a small charity fundraiser.

And this year, they're going all out.

On Nov. 9, Keller & Koczara is holding an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to benefit and raise awareness about the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation.

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"This one excites me and I'm really praying that a lot of people come out," said event organizer and planner, Sherry Lucas.

Marnie Keller agrees.

"What's really cool about it is how many people they help nationwide," she said.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation honors firefighter, Stephen Siller, who died on Sept. 11, 2001. It also pays homage to first responders and members of the military. The foundation gives back 93% of all donations to its programs, which include the Gold Star Family Home Program, Fallen First Responder Home Program and the Smart Home Program.

The open house at 4636 S.E. 9th Place, will feature a shredding truck, a popular feature at Keller & Koczara's events.

"We've always had a shredding truck because we're CPAs and that kind of makes sense," Keller said. "People need to get rid of all that. Their documents and stuff."

Three bags are allowed per household.

There will be about 30 volunteers. A fire truck will be on-site from 10 a.m. to noon. The Cape Coral Police Department is sending two squad cars so kids can take pictures with them. Children can get their fingerprints done. Live music is provided by David Rojas Jr., who is also one of the sponsors.

Never Forgotten Hair Studio is giving attendees free haircuts. There will be games, and 11-year-old Laila Lucas is singing the national anthem a capella at noon in both English and Spanish. All donations from the event will go toward the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

There are two big prizes, a 50-inch smart TV, donated by Home Audio & Security Design, Inc. and a one-year full gym membership from Gulf Coast Fitness.

Lucas says the gym membership will be next to last followed by the last raffle draw for the TV.

Corporate donors contributed various items that will be door prizes for the raffle. Attendees who have the winning ticket can choose a basket or an envelope with a gift card up to $100 in it, from the corporate donor.

Hot dogs and drinks will be for sale and the proceeds will also benefit the foundation

"Every single thing we collect is going back to them," Lucas said.

Keller & Koczara approached Lucas about a charity fundraiser the company tries to do each year, normally in the fall.

This is what Lucas came up with.

She's hoping at least 1,000 people come out.

Lucas has been working with the foundation's director of philanthropy, Todd Hirsch, who told her he's going to invite everyone who participated in the 2019 Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk in Fort Myers.

The proceeds from the run help support the foundation's programs. Keller is an avid runner and she participated in the 5k in September at Lakes Regional Park in Fort Myers.

"The foundation does runs and walks across the country," said Vice President of Marketing and Communication, Larry Olson. "They also have folks around the country who do hundreds of smaller scale fundraisers like this."

Keller & Koczara has been doing a charity event since 2011. Last year they didn't host one, but they try to do it each year.

Businesses were happy to help support the Nov. 9 open house.

Sponsors, who are not charging for anything, include Sam's Club of Cape Coral, AppleStitch, Inc., Crown Shredding, Taylor Rental Naples, Never Forgotten Hair Studio, Sign and Design Depot and musician, David Rojas, Jr.

Lucas says she's been "very blessed by looking and Googling and picking out places."

Sam's Club of Cape Coral, for example, donated 13 cases of hot dogs and buns.

Taylor Rental Naples donated a hot dog cart and coolers for drinks.

Metro Ice donated a refrigerated truck.

Applestich, Inc. was the first T-shirt company Lucas walked into and they're donating all of the volunteers' shirts.

Corporate donors provided baskets or gift certificates up to $100.

They include Home Audio & Security Design Inc., which donated a smart TV; Gulf Coast Fitness, which donated a one-year full gym membership; Crystal Springs Water; Metro Ice; Holistic Radiance Day Spa, which donated a door prize and basket; Miceli's Restaurant; Banana Boat Tour Company, which donated a sunset cruise for two out of Cape Harbour; Paradise Pizza; Ceno's Grille; Cape Coral Floral Designs, which will contribute table designs for the event; Pretty Nail Salon; Chili's Grill & Bar; Ralph's Place; Paesano's Italian Market; Lobster Lady Seafood Market & Bistro; Maria's Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant; First Watch; Olive Garden; Sidecar Treats, which donated a large basket with gourmet popcorn flavors; Say it with Flowers, which donated a basket; First Round Draft; Big Blue Brewing; Rusty's Raw Bar & Grill; Papa Joe's Italian Restaurant; Fathom's Restaurant & Bar; Sicily Trattoria; Creative Photo, FL; Amore Italian Market and Bakery, and Dunkin' on Cape Coral Parkway.

Lucas says her goal is to raise awareness about Tunnel to Towers and to raise as much money as they can.

There will be three tables for donations. Attendees can donate to a specific program or donate to the foundation in general, and Tunnel to Towers will decide where the money is needed the most.

"If you give to one program, they earmark it just for that," Lucas said.

The Smart Home Program builds mortgage-free smart homes for catastrophically injured service members. Each home is custom-designed to address the unique needs of each person.

The Fallen First Responder Home Program helps support law enforcement and firefighters who lost their lives under extraordinary circumstances in the line of duty. The Tunnel to Towers Foundation also provides a support system for surviving family members and ensures they are cared for.

The Gold Star Family Home Program was launched in 2018 and it honors the legacy of those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving the country. Tunnel to Towers provides a mortgage-free home to surviving spouses and young children.

The foundation's director of philanthropy, Hirsch, said that since the Smart Home Program began, Tunnel to Towers has built 85 smart homes and helped 40 fallen first responder families and 30 Gold Star families.

"We are hoping everyone remembers the 'why' we are doing this," Lucas said. "Public awareness of?this awesome non-profit charity, and to receive all grateful donations to help in any way giving back to our heroes."

 
 

 

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