SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Ten months after burying her husband, Katie Celiz arrived at a place she wasn’t sure would ever exist again - when she went home.
“It feels amazing, It still doesn’t seem quite real yet.”
The family received a mortgage-free home Thursday from the Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s Gold Star Family Program which provides homes to those who lose a family member in military service. Sergeant First Class Christopher Celiz was killed in Afghanistan last July.
Katie and her young daughter, Shannon, took a look around their new home.
“The Tunnel to Towers Foundation is taking the lead, and we are taking care of our veterans and first responders, and we’re going to be here for the rest of her life and Shannon’s life, as a foundation,” said Jack Oehm, Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
That continuing support will mean almost as much as the home does to Katie, who said during Thursday’s dedication ceremony that she didn’t know if she ever would be able to afford a home after losing her husband.
“The anxiety that I was having was almost crippling,” Celiz said. “I can actually kind of breathe now. I don’t have that constant pressure where it was hard to breathe. Just a great relief, knowing we’re going to be okay.”
The Celiz home is one of more than 100 Tunnel to Towers has purchased for Gold Star Families, catastrophically-wounded veterans, and first responders killed in the line of duty.
“Home ownership is the American dream, right? It’s as simple as that. We provide a mortgage-free home to a family that doesn’t have to worry about paying a mortgage. It’s a great start in life.”
In Bloomingdale, a new life in a new home began for the Celiz family, where their husband, father, and hero will never be forgotten.
“He’s always going to be present. We’re going to bring all of his paintings here, and Shannon’s looking forward to hanging his guitars. He’s always going to be with us," Katie said.
Katie and Shannon plan to move into their new home immediately.
The 8th Annual Tunnel to Towers Savannah Run is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 7, in Orleans Square.