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Feel, That You Might Understand and Know the Hope That Can Spring From Loss
Most of today’s teens were small children on 9/11, so few completely understand the magnitude of the tragic event – especially the personal loss felt by a loved one that day. Even fewer understand how that heart-wrenching loss has turned into good, inspiring the victims’ family and friends to carry on the spirit of those lost, creating a positive, long-lasting legacy for that person.
People established foundations, organizations and activities to memorialize their loved one. A few, with a focus on kids and teens, are highlighted below. Victims’ loved ones candidly shared their stories of grief, coping, and positive actions with reality readers so that we may better understand.
Only 23 when his father was killed, Todd Bailey was the son of NHL scout and retired player, Ace Bailey, who was on United Flight 175 when it struck the South Tower. Todd, his mother Kathy, and his aunt, Barbara Pothier, started the Ace Bailey Foundation to help hospitalized children, as Ace so often spent hours in hospitals with terminally-ill or bed-ridden children. Todd shares…
"When I lost my dad, I also lost one of my best friends. He was such a big influence in my life that he continues to be with me always. I find myself doing a lot of the same activities with my son that my Dad did with me. My family and friends were big supports after my dad was killed and, like my mother says, the loss never goes away, but you learn to deal with it. For teens I'd say, always remember to thank your parents for all the love and opportunities they have given you because you never know if they will be there to thank tomorrow."
Tim Cavanaugh is the co-founder of the Run to Daylight Education Program (RTD, http://www.queensfalcons.net/rtd.htm) and coach of the Queens Falcons – and was best friends with Program co-founder Stephen Hoffman, a successful Cantor Fitzgerald trader who was killed on 9/11. Looking to rescue inner-city kids from the streets, drugs, violence and crime, and sharing a philosophy “We are defined by what we do and teach others - not by the amount of things we attain in life,” they created the RTD Program to help inner city teens to play football and receive top education. The program concentrates on finding candidates who have potential to be good students as well as good athletes. Their athletic ability opens doors for them as they are matched with program-linked top private schools. Stepped up markedly since Stephen died, the Program has helped hundreds of inner city kids since its establishment in the ‘90s.
“Stephen was killed on 9/11, but while the energy behind the program has increased, the vision and the goal has remained the same: to help inner city young men without hope get to a better place through education and football. Education is the primary objective. Football is just a vehicle that we leverage for the Run to Daylight Education Program participants.
Stephen and I would go into some of the worst high crime areas in the city on Friday nights at 12:30, approach kids and ask them if they were interested in playing football. Now there are only three things a teenager is doing on a street at 12:30 in the morning: No Good, No Good and No Good. Approaching these young people, the first thing they think is this guy is a cop, but then they notice the football. When it is thrown to him, all of his inhibitions disappear. All they were involved with become a thing of the past as soon as we get him to come to practice. They become part of a team and find love and camaraderie they often never knew. And they are so exhausted by the end of practice and they can't even think of their old way of life.
Once he gets his equipment we begin to ask questions as a form of guidance. Where do you see yourself in five years? What do you want people to say about you when leave here? Most young men begin to question the “negatives” they took as given, and start to take pride in their school work. We have seen kids who had not attended school for two years work to become college graduates. We offer them a way out and a better life through a game and education.
One story about my fallen friend Stephen G. Hoffman comes to mind. Stephen and I went out on one of our late night expeditions. We came across a sad young man sitting alone on a stoop. We began talking to him, and Stephen suddenly went over to his car and opened the trunk. Stephen pulled out a trash bag of slightly used sneakers he had quietly collected over time. I then belatedly noticed what Stephen had seen right away - the kid (Rakim) had gaping holes in his flapping shoes. Stephen fished through bag and found a pair sneakers that the fit him. Rakim beamed. That one small act captured what the Run to Daylight Education program would come to mean to so many it has helped.”
Elizabeth and Stephen Alderman, MD are the parents of Peter C. Alderman, killed while attending a conference at the World Trade Center. They established the Peter C. Alderman Foundation (PCAF, http://www.petercaldermanfoundation.org) to alleviate the suffering of terrorism and violence victims in post-conflict countries endure by providing indigenous physicians with the tools necessary to treat mental affliction using Western medical therapies, combined with local healing traditions. PCAF has trained over 1,000 mental health professionals from 22 countries like Rwanda, and has treated more than 100,000 victims. Barron’s Magazine has listed it as “one of the ten most effective small charities in America.”
“Shortly after our youngest child Peter was killed we learned that one billion people, one sixth of humanity, have directly experienced torture, terrorism or mass violence and that 50% to 70% of survivors suffer from incapacitating traumatic depression and PTSD. Many are teens and children. There was nothing we could do for Pete, he was killed because of terrorism. But, if we could help those victims that survived and were unable to live their life, if we could return them to functional lives, then that was the perfect memorial to honor Peter.
For teens…we have always tried to teach our three children that they could make a difference in the world. Since Peter’s death, we have come to know that this is true. We really believe that if you have the passion to do something, you can accomplish it. You don’t need a vast experience. You don’t need a million dollars. We had neither when we started…only the passion to leave a mark for Peter.”
The aforementioned programs have maintained strength and prosperity by driving determination on behalf of a lost loved one. We hope our readers will support these causes and that their message of loss, persistence and faith is heard, felt and understood by teens.