Charity Announces Fundraiser to Support Fallen Firefighter's Family

In attendance at the announcement will be Cindy Chesna, whose husband, police Sgt. Michael Chesna of Weymouth, died in the line of duty last year

A non-profit organization dedicated to honoring military and first responders announced Friday their support to fallen Worcester, Massachusetts, firefighter Lt. Jason Menard’s family.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a New York-based charity, formally announced their plans to organize a fundraiser to offer financial support for Menard’s family at the Worcester Fire Department. The funds are meant to help his family pay off their mortgage.

"When we heard about Lt. Menard and what happened - the Tunnel to Towers Foundation - we knew we had to do something," Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation Chairman Frank Siller said. "There is no greater act of love than to give your life for another human being."

Menard, 39, died in the line of duty on Wednesday responding to a roaring four-alarm structure fire at a multi-family home located on 7 Stockholm St., according to Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie. He became trapped on the third floor of the burning building while helping fellow firefighters escape from harm's way.

"Because of that, another firefighter, Chris Pace, will be there to see the birth of his second child," Worcester Fire Lt. Michael Papagni said.

The fallen firefighter is survived by his wife, Tina, and their three children.

"At any moment, it could be any one of us," said Lavoie.

The foundation was named in honor of New York City firefighter Stephen Siller who ran back into the World Trade Center on 9/11 to help save others. His act is just like Menard's who died trying to save the lives of his fellow firefighters and others.

In attendance at Friday's announcement was Cindy Chesna, the widow of fallen Weymouth Police Sgt. Michael Chesna. Michael Chesna was fatally shot in the line of duty when he responded to a report of an erratic driver that led to a foot chase. His family was a Tunnel to Towers recipient last year.

"The support that they are going to have is unbelievable because that's what's gotten me by. I would not be here today if it wasn't for everybody," Chesna said.

The organization is now asking for people to send in as little as $11 to help Menard's wife and three children to help pay off their mortgage. It's something the organization did for the Chesna family.

Funeral arrangements for Menard were announced Thursday. 

A public viewing will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday, his funeral will begin at 11 a.m. Monday and his burial will follow.

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