WATERLOO, Ill. – An organization that helps the families of fallen first responders held a golf tournament Friday in Waterloo, Illinois. It’s their third annual tournament for the St. Louis region. 

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation returned to the St. Louis area, but this was its first year in Waterloo, Illinois, after the tournament outgrew its previous location. Golfers and first responders gathered at Annbriar Golf Course to support the annually growing tournament. 

“This is the third annual and we hope it’s going to be a 30th annual one year,” said Jack Oehm, the retired Chief of the New York City Fire Department. “We do a simple thing. We take care of the people that take care of us. We take care of our first responders. Our police officers, our firefighters, our EMS workers that day in and day out go into harm’s way to keep us safe in our communities.” 

The foundation made over $200 million annually to support those families and they’ve made a local impact. 

Organizer Josh Hecht, an Illinois State Trooper said he was inspired to start the event after the foundation stepped in to help the family of a fallen Illinois State Trooper. 

“In 2019, we lost Trooper Nick Hopkins, so I wanted to give back to the Tunnel to Towers because I heard they paid off his mortgage,” said Hecht. “So, I decided to create this golf tournament here.”

Hecht said the foundation gives first responders some peace of mind. 

“We talk about that in our house and knowing that Tunnel to Towers is going to help our family if something ever happens to me, I feel great about it,” said Hecht. 

Curtis Roever, the Lieutenant of the Waterloo Fire Department said he is happy to participate in the organization.

“I’m happy they asked. We’re more than happy to do these kinds of things. It’s a great organization and we’re just happy they’re here,” said Roever. “It means a lot to all the first responders who have lost loved ones and people can give back to the people who take care of them.” 

Tunnel to Towers has numerous events across the country throughout the year for people to give back. 

“We have about 70 golf outings all over this country from New York to California. From Florida to Texas. Ninety-three cents on the dollar when you donate to us goes right to our programs,” said Oehm. 

For a calendar of events or to make a donation, visit t2t.org