Tom Oelkers was an FDNY firefighter. Following the September 11 attacks, he spent weeks searching through Ground Zero pile for victims before eventually joining forces with NYPD officers for years.
His widow Erika received a mortgage-free home from the Tunnel to Towers foundation after her husband, Steven was diagnosed with 9/11 related cancer and passed away nine months later.
Early Life and Education
Thomas Oelkers was born on the first of a month day. He is the son of Harry J and Helen C Oelkers and has 13 siblings. Thomas Oelkers currently studies biochemistry and molecular biology; as well as being part of Professor Shana Stoddard’s Molecular Immunotherapies Research Lab as part of his Watson Fellowship grant.
He served in the FDNY, stationed at Ladder 44 in the Bronx for 19 years before being diagnosed with cancer in 2020 and passing away nine months later, leaving behind his wife Erika and three daughters; Tunnel to Towers Foundation paid off their mortgage home.
George and Gladys were members of St Peter’s Anglican Church for over 25 years, during which time George served as treasurer. Together they enjoyed travelling with friends as well as playing golf and curling – two hobbies they were both very fond of! George is survived by Gladys as well as sons, daughter-in-laws, five grandchildren and various family members.
He served in Ladder 44 of the Bronx Fire Department for nearly his entire FDNY career before being diagnosed with cancer and dying due to World Trade Center-related illnesses nine months later at 46. Tunnel to Towers paid off their mortgage and paid their final tributes.
Since 1994, this charity has been supporting families of first responders who die due to illnesses related to 9/11 – it is one of the nation’s premier and longest-running charity races.
Achievement and Honors
Honors an ROTC cadet who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and academic performance, in addition to actively engaging in campus activities. Awarded to an ROTC cadet with a current term GPA of at least 3.8 and who ranks within the top 25% of their department.
STATEN ISLAND, New York — A Long Island nursing home helped raise funds for Camryn Oelkers of Queens who has Rett syndrome and can’t communicate verbally; her family became the inaugural recipient of financial assistance from Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s annual 9/11 race event, which paid their mortgage.
Honors the outstanding contributions made by ROTC departments’ senior or junior members in demonstrating and encouraging patriotism. Each winner receives both a paratrooper trophy and monetary award from the COL Benjamin Vandervoort Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association.
Thomas Oelkers lives on Pennsylvania Blvd in Bellerose with his longtime partner and their daughter Camryn.
He is an active member of St. Jude’s service organization Lynx Club and leads their Watson Fellowship award, giving graduating seniors an opportunity to spend one year exploring a subject of their choosing abroad. He plans to pursue a career in global pediatric oncology.
Recently, Tunnel to Towers foundation provided assistance for the family of an FDNY firefighter who succumbed to World Trade Center-related illness after 19 years on Ladder 44 in Bronx. His widow Erika reported that Tunnel to Towers foundation paid their mortgage off – marking its inaugural gesture towards families of fallen FDNY first responders.
Thomas Oelkers served the FDNY for 19 years after four with the New York Police Department. For most of this time he was stationed at Ladder 44 in the Bronx for nearly all his FDNY career and also competed on their football team. Unfortunately he was diagnosed with cancer in 2020 and passed away nine months later on May 16, 2021, leaving behind his wife Erika and three daughters; to honor their service the ‘George to the Rescue’ crew surprised his family with an unexpected renovation to their Long Island home; additionally the Tunnel to Towers foundation paid off their mortgage as a tribute.