Tunnel to Towers 5K event to help raise money to build homes for families of injured, fallen heroes

Crystal Blasjo was just 14-years-old when Al Qaeda attacked America.

"It’s crazy to think that it’s been 20 years. I was in high school. I was in ninth grade," she said.

In the decade following 9/11, Crystal married a young man named Aaron.

He joined the military and became an elite Green Beret.

They had a baby boy in 2011.

And, just five weeks after the birth of Talon Blasjo, U.S. Army Sgt. Aaron Blasjo was deployed to the Middle East to support Operation Enduring Freedom the night Osama Bin Laden was killed.

Aaron's unit was attacked by an IED, an improvised explosive device, in Afghanistan. He died in the explosion.

"We got the knock on our door, Memorial Day Weekend, that Aaron was actually killed," Crystal Blasjo said. "It was very hard to grasp the concept that his father was never going to hold him again, that my husband was never going to walk through that door."

Ever since that tragic day in May 2011, Aaron's son, Talon, has relied on keepsakes, photographs and people who knew Aaron to remind him just how much his father loved him.

"They say he was a really cool guy and that they were his best friend," Talon said.

In late 2019, Crystal received a mortgage-free home in Lake County through the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

Siller was a New York City firefighter who had the day off on Sept. 11, 2001.

When he heard the Twin Towers were struck, he rushed back to the city through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.

He died that day saving lives.

Siller was 35 years old with five children.

Today, his foundation provides homes to Gold Star families, injured veterans and first responders, and to families of fallen police officers and firefighters.

Tunnel to Towers has delivered hundreds of homes in the past few years and it's not slowing down.

Donations from everyday people make it all happen.

A fundraiser on 9/11 at Crane's Roost Park in Altamonte Springs this year is an opportunity to help.

The 9th annual 5K Run & Walk Orlando will attract hundreds of local first responders, military services members and thousands of everyday people to honor our heroes.

Crystal Blasjo and her son, Talon, will be there.

"We're the Blasjo Brigade," Crystal said. "We love our home, and every time we come in it, we're overly thankful. We don't think we're owed anything."

Although Talon said he misses having a father, he knows just how hard his mom tries to fill the void.

"Yeah, it's really hard. For my mom, it's really hard to be a single mom, but she takes it like a trooper," he said.

If you would like to participate in the Tunnel for Towers event at Crane's Roost this Saturday, you can register here.