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Disabled central New York veteran gets new home

On that sunny September 11 16 years ago, many had their eyes to the sky watching the twin towers fall. Under bright blue skies in Pompey Monday morning, all eyes were on the sky as two skydivers fluttered to the earth, each carrying an American flag.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News
Two sky divers representing Tunnel to Towers Foundation program arrived in Pompey Monday to announce a new home for a disabled veteran.

It was part of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation program that builds functional homes for disabled vets. The program is named after Frank Siller’s brother Stephen, a New York City Firefighter who lost his life 16 years ago.

“Who ran, ran up the stairs into that inferno, to save other lives, to give up his own? My brother did," Siller said. "And that’s why we are here today. Stephen and his sacrifice has inspired us all.”

In central New York, this foundation has built a functional, high-tech home for Matthew Leyva of Clay, a disabled U.S. army veteran, who is confined to a wheelchair after stepping on an IED while on duty in Afghanistan six years ago.

"Right now, I don’t have this," Leyva said. "I don’t have the independence of doing things on my own."

That means living in a house where everything is designed for Leyva’s needs, from power-operated window shades to a stovetop that with the with the push of a button, drops down to wheelchair level.

"Cooking, reaching into cabinets, that’s going to be a first in six years," Leyva said. "I’m excited to start all of this.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.