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Nonprofit pays off mortgage for surviving family of Norfolk firefighter

Chris, David & Aimee Griffin

Two Hampton Roads families who lost their patriarch have had their mortgages paid in full by the Tunnels to Towers Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to support Gold Star families and the families of fallen first responders.

Aimee Griffin lost her husband, Christopher, a firefighter who spent about 10 years with Norfolk Fire-Rescue, in October 2021 at age 50. He had endured a long battle with glioblastoma brain cancer caused by smoke exposure.

Anna Nelson lost her husband, Caleb, a Navy SEAL, in October 2011 at age 26 when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device while on a combat patrol in Afghanistan.

Both men were fathers. Griffin left behind one son, while Nelson left behind two. The Griffin family lives in Suffolk, the Nelson family in Virginia Beach.


Aimee Griffin said in a news release that Tunnels to Towers had “lifted the biggest financial burden we had.”

“It’s allowed us to be able to try to enjoy more fun things together and not have to worry so much,” Griffin said.

Griffin, a firefighter with the IAFF 4th District Local 68 in Norfolk, began his career with the Chinchilla Hose Company of South Abington Township before moving to Hampton Roads in 2008. He was described as someone who loved helping people and giving back to the community.

Tunnels to Towers is funded by both its corporate partners and individual donors.

“All things we can enjoy because of our brave first responders and military members who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe,” Frank Siller, chairman and CEO of Tunnels to Towers, said in a news release.

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