You've no doubt seen their commercials on television, with celebrity spokesperson Mark Wahlberg and the families of first responders they've helped.

Their work has now brought Tunnel to Towers to Iowa just in time to honor the family of one of our heroes ahead of the 4th of July weekend. According to KWWL, Trooper Ted Benda of Waukon died in an October 2021 accident on Highway 52 north of Postville after swerving to avoid a deer on the way to a call. He was critically injured and died five days later.

His wife Holly was then left to raise 4 children by herself, but the Tunnel to Towers Foundation has stepped in to do what they do. Pay off the family's entire mortgage so she can focus on their well-being.

Our mortgage was our largest monthly expense. Eliminating that expense has given me the opportunity to focus solely on my children and their needs without the worry of paying a mortgage," Holly Benda said. "I am not only trying to raise my children with my values and interests in mind, but I am now trying to also fulfill my husband’s role and instill his values in them so that they always feel his love

Officer Benda served 16 years in Iowa law enforcement, starting in the Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and Special Enforcement Operations Bureau. He joined the Iowa State Patrol in 2016. Benda is one of 22 first responders the foundation is set to honor this year. You can learn how to help them achieve their cause with contributions and information here.

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On the list, there's a robust mix of offerings from great schools and nightlife to high walkability and public parks. Some areas have enjoyed rapid growth thanks to new businesses moving to the area, while others offer glimpses into area history with well-preserved architecture and museums. Keep reading to see if your hometown made the list.

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