LAND O' LAKES, Fla — Donated steel formed in the shape of the Twin Towers will be on full display at Pasco County Fire Rescue's headquarters.
“When they called us about a month ago saying that they were going to be bringing a piece of the steel from the World Trade Center, we were just shocked that we could even get something like that here at the fire station,” Pasco County Fire Rescue Fire Chief Scott Cassin said.
The donation comes as the ground is being broken for the first mortgage-free home in a 75-acre Land O' Lakes community designed specifically for veterans and first responders.
“We're very honored to be able to be a part of that and see that happening here in Pasco County because what it stands for and what the homes will be used for is just amazing," Cassin said. "It's great for the families that need it and it's nice to know that that option is available for those families.”
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation is building a 96-home community in Land O' Lakes comprised of mortgage-free new houses built exclusively for three groups of people, which are veterans living with catastrophic injuries, gold star families and fallen first responder families.
Veterans living with catastrophic injuries include military veterans who have lost limbs, are missing appendages or were severely burned and often need retrofitted homes to accommodate their injuries.
Gold Star families include spouses and children of military members who were killed while in battle or by injuries sustained while serving.
Fallen First Responder families also include spouses and children left behind after a first responder was killed in the line of duty.
Twenty of the homes being built will be smart homes designed for injured veterans and first responders.
"Those are homes that are built specifically for our catastrophic veterans and first responders. So they have things like cabinets that raise up and down. Everything is completely automated in the home, it allows them more freedom of movement and freedom of life.” Matthew Mahoney, executive vice president of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, said.
A new neighborhood, and now part of the backbone of the World Trade Center, will soon both stand proudly in Pasco County, a reminder of all that was lost.
“Twenty-one years ago on that day, I lost one of my friends, a lifelong friend.” Chris Poole with the Land O' Lakes Rotary Club said.
First responders and veterans who lost their lives on that day will also be remembered by the new community.
“I can tell you as someone who was there for the rescue recovery efforts, who was there when the towers were still up, that piece still has a tremendous amount of meaning for all Americans, but especially for our first responders who sacrifice so much,” Mahoney said.
Cassin said one of his firefighters is building a special case for the steel towers.
You can read more about the Tunnel to Towers Foundation here.