Amy Gardner wrote -
This team page is to honor the life of Tom Gardner, a firefighter at Hazmat Co. 1 in Maspeth. Tom's family has been running this race for 10 years. This is the 3rd year running as "Team Gardner".
Like a tree, or a starfish, Thomas A. Gardner reached in many different directions.
He was a 39-year-old firefighter who spent more than a dozen years battling blazes in Harlem, then moved on to the city's elite hazardous-materials unit in Queens.
He was a father and husband who taught his family to love canoeing and hiking and animals the way he did. He was an aspiring science teacher, who put himself through Queens College while working full time at that Harlem firehouse. He could wing one-liners with the best of them, and sold jokes to Henny Youngman and Joan Rivers.
He also played hockey for a Long Island team, with his older brother, Joseph. And with a fellow firefighter from Hazardous Materials Company No. 1, he performed in a comedy routine broadcast on a Long Island radio station.
"Originally, he was supposed to sit in the back and pass ideas along," said his wife, Liz. But sitting in the back was not his style.
At Queens College, his professors were amazed by his inquisitiveness and enthusiasm. "He had this intense curiosity about all the aspects of science," said one of them, Mark G. Miksic. At one point, they invited him to lecture, and he was a hit. Now the college has the Thomas A. Gardner Award, for students planning to teach science.
"There are a lot of people who are full of themselves, but Tom was never full of himself," said Rob Koudelka, his friend from Engine Company 59, known as the Harlem Zoo. "He never thought he was the smartest guy. He wanted to become smarter. And he never thought he was the best at anything. He wanted to get better."
Tunnel to Towers raises money for NYC First Responders. To date, the Foundation has pledged $3.2 million in the form of trust accounts and mortgage payoffs, and will continue to provide significant financial support for those who give their lives due to their bravery. The fund also raises money to build mortgage-free smart homes for our most catastrophically injured service members through our Building for America’s Bravest program. Join our team under "Team Gardner" here: https://www.eventbrite.com/teams/team-gardner/2115247
About the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation
The Siller Family started the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation to honor the memory of their brother, Stephen, a New York City firefighter (FDNY) who lost his life on September 11, 2001. The Foundation was built upon the mantra, “while we have time, LET US DO GOOD,” and continues Stephen’s legacy by supporting our nation’s first responders and service members.
Firefighter Stephen Siller lost his life while saving others. In his memory, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation developed the In the Line of Duty Program to honor the heroes that risk their lives every day. To date, the Foundation has spent over $100 million supporting the military and fallen first responders and their families. Our newest addition, the Gold Star Family Home Program, honors those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country by providing the surviving spouses and young children with a brand new, mortgage-free home.
The Smart Home Program provides mortgage-free smart homes to our most catastrophically injured service members. Each home is custom designed to address the unique needs of each individual.
Finally, the Fallen First Responder Home Program pays off the remaining mortgages for families left behind when a firefighter or police officer is killed in the line of duty. Upon hearing news of the tragic loss of a first responder, Tunnel to Towers deploys a rapid response team to immediately provide support to the family.
Your hard work on behalf of the Foundation helps us provide the support the families of our military and first responders so desperately need.
Email NYC@tunnel2towers.org for answers to any other questions you might have.