STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (PIX11) – A retired FDNY lieutenant and his family received the gift of a lifetime just ten days before Christmas – a new home. The Staten Island house comes with extensive renovations to make life easier for Lt. Greg “Mickey” Hansen and his family as he battles ALS.
“Having this house in this area is a dream come true,” his wife, America Hansen, said. “We always wanted to be around this neighborhood.”
Hansen was diagnosed with ALS about a year ago.
As part of its annal Season of Hope, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation gifted them the new house, paid off the mortgage, and made renovations. The upgrades allow Hansen to get around freely on his wheelchair.
“I can’t wait to see my kids playing basketball out front and just run around the neighborhood playing with the kids,” Hansen said.
Hansen became a firefighter in 2002 after 9/11, but he was near the World Trade Center that day heading to a job interview with the Red Cross.
That brush with death, he says, made him question becoming a firefighter. He shared his concerns with his FDNY father.
“He kind of brushed it off and said, ‘Don’t worry. They’ll train you,’ and I think I just said, ‘OK.'”
After nearly 21 years on the job – most of it at Ladder 153 in Brooklyn – he’s become part of a much larger family — the FDNY.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation also gifted him steel from the World Trade Center.
“The spirit of all those brave wonderful men and women who sacrificed their lives on 9/11 is in this house from this day forward,” said Mary Siller-Scullin, whose brother, Stephen Siller, is who the foundation was created in honor.
As part of the renovations, walls and carpet were removed to make it easier for Hansen to get around. The bathroom also has ADA-compliant fixtures installed and the kitchen has a motorized table that raises and lowers to wheelchair height.
His family looks forward to new memories here.
“I think the house is truly amazing,” said his son Amaru. “I want to say thank you to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and for making my dad more happy and live more independent.”
Tunnel to Towers will deliver more than 200 mortgage-free homes across the country to military and first responders by the end of the year.