Goldstar wife, Orlando wine company team up to help Tunnel To Towers nonprofit

Wine for Warriors event will help raise funds for nonprofit

ORLANDO, Fla. – Nonprofit Tunnel to Towers has been helping the families of those who have fallen in combat or have been seriously wounded for almost 2 decades.

Crystal Blasjo is a Goldstar wife who in 2019 was gifted a brand new home by the foundation after her husband, Aaron Joseph Blasjo--a Sargeant for the Elite Green Berets special forces was killed in Afghanistan on May 29, 2011. Blasjo became a widow with an 8-week old baby.

“He loved what he did and he supported a country that he believed in,” Crystal said. “Aaron was fun. He was always happy. He was always giving his heart to anyone and everyone. I mean he would help a person he didn’t even know.”

She said it’s been 10 challenging years without her husband but after Tunnel to Towers contribution, some of those hardships have gotten a little easier.

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“It is a lot of relief. I was able to go back to school. I have now received my associate’s degree and I’m working on my bachelor’s degree in teaching and without the gift from Tunnel to Towers of a mortgage-free home financially I wouldn’t have been able to,” she said. “I’m able to spend more time with my children.”

The nonprofit was founded by the family of Stephen Gerard Siller, a New York City firefighter who died on September 11, 2001, after running through a tunnel to get to the twin towers, according to the organization’s website.

“This is an amazing foundation. I mean literally, any amount of money that is poured and donated into this foundation goes directly back to our families of our service members who have been catastrophically wounded; our families of the fallen,” Crystal said.

For Yanick Arakelov a U.S. military veteran who 8 years ago founded Silk Road Wines in Orlando, getting results for wounded first responders, soldiers, and their families, is part of his company’s mission.

“We wanna do anything we can to ease that pain and show that they will never be forgotten,” Arakelov said. “It’s our core value to help charities because we’ve been lucky and successful in what we do and we wanted to give back and help those that need help. It’s important that we remember and we honor those sacrifices.”

On Saturday, as the nation commemorates 20 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks, Arakelov and his company will be hosting Wine for Warriors, a gala event to help raise funds for Tunnel to Towers and for a charity back in his homeland of the Republic of Georgia. At the event, first responders from Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties will be honored.

For information or to make a reservation for the gala, visit:

About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.