Thomas Patrick Cullen III was born on August 19th, 1970. The oldest of three children, Tommy grew up in the New York City beach community of Breezy Point, Queens. At sixteen, Tommy became a NYC lifeguard, spending most Summers patrolling and protecting the shores of Rockaway Beach. In 1996 he lived out his dream and joined the FDNY. Over the next five years Tommy would marry his college sweetheart and love of his life, become a proud father, work in the busiest firehouse in the city, Engine 290/Ladder 103 in East New York, Brooklyn and finally ending up in a specialized unit in the South Bronx, Squad 41. He also played several seasons for the FDNY Bravest Football team, as their quarterback. He loved life and lived everyday to the fullest, by helping others. He loved the fire department, he loved the football team and most of all he loved his family.
On the morning of Sept. 11th, 2001, Tommy and five of his brothers from Squad 41 and hundreds of firefighters, EMS and police responded to Downtown Manhattan, when terrorists flew two hijacked commercial airplanes into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center. Tommy, along with 342 of his FDNY brethren would never return home to their families that day. Tommy was just 31 years old.
In the many years following Tommy’s death the Cullen family had kept his memory and his name alive amongst ourselves, privately. In 2012, Tom’s mother, Rita was diagnosed with breast cancer. She battled the disease through months of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and WON!
May 2019, Tom's father, Thomas Patrick Cullen Jr., a 50+ year member of multiple fire departments across the country, and former Chief of two departments, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Again our family turned to the amazing doctors and staff at Sloan Kettering to help us fight this battle. After two years of treatments and battling the disease, our father succumbed to pancreatic cancer on May 13th, 2021. This loss has further emboldened our mission to provide families battling this disease incredible memories to last a lifetime.
Our mission at the Tommy Cullen Foundation is to raise money to assist first responders and their family members who are battling cancer. Whatever these family members need in their battles, we will do our best to provide, through your generous help and donations. Because all first responders are a part of a larger global family. A family built on the service of others and self sacrifice. Tommy sacrificed his life so that others may live, and the rest of the Cullen family will follow his lead and work tirelessly to make sure we can help too. Thank you, God Bless America and Never Forget.