More than 3,000 children lost a parent on that awful day. Fifteen years later, in a world rocked by terror, this group has hard-won wisdom to share. Here, in their own words, is a glimpse into their journeys.
Two extreme athletes raised $4,000 for the children of 9/11 victims on Sunday when they finished a 75-mile trek from Long Island to the Survivor’s Tree in lower Manhattan.
Long-distance runner Eva Casale and former Air Force veteran and handcyclist Michael Roesch battled the heat and humidity as they trekked from Manhasset to Manhattan — stopping to lay wreaths along the way at various 9/11 memorials.
“Just seeing all those that were lost and keeping that in our hearts was keeping us going,” Casale said.
She and Roesch did the “Footsteps for 15” ahead of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in memory of all the victims but also to raise funds for Tuesday’s Children, a charity for kids who lost loved ones in the attacks.
Two athletes trekked 75 miles from Long Island to Lower Manhattan to honor the victims of the September 11th attacks.
Runner Eva Casale and hand-cyclist Michael Roesch called their journey “Footsteps for 15” in honor of the upcoming 15th anniversary of 9/11.
They began their 18-hour trip in Manhasset and stopped to place wreaths along the way.
It all ended at the National September 11th Memorial & Museum.
“We stopped at a lot of memorials in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and here in Manhattan, and I think just seeing all those that were lost and keeping them in our hearts and what we would do on the mission — I think that was keeping me going, knowing that we unfortunately lost them, and the least I can do is honor them on this day,” Casale said.
The event raised money for the group Tuesday’s Children, which helps families of 9/11 victims, first responders, and military families.
“Footsteps for 15” is a 18-hour endurance journey that extreme long-distance runner and Glen Cove native Eva Casale will undertake alongside former Air Force Special Operations veteran and hand-cyclist Michael Roesh all throughout the night.
“The goal is to get to the 9/11 Memorial at 9:11 in the morning tomorrow,” Casale said.
Throughout the pair’s journey, which began at the Manhasset Lakeville Fire Company, they will be showing their respect for those who died in the terrorist attacks on September 11.
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Some children of first responders were able to experience what life is like at a Queens Village firehouse on Thursday as part of Take Our Children to Work Day.
“I think firemen are cool. It’s because my dad was one, too, and like, he told me all about them,” said 8-year-old Raymond Tomins.
The event was organized by Tuesday’s Children, a nonprofit formed after September 11th to support children who may have lost a parent in the terrorist attacks.
In addition to the children of first responders, the children of military members were also invited to attend.
“It allows for a sort of togetherness and closeness, all of us sharing that common bond,” said Robert Pycior, a former Tuesday’s Children participant.
Participants were able to try on the firemen’s gear, spray a fire hose and learn how to use tools to lift a car in an emergency.
Children at Queens Firehouse
The FDNY hosted a very special day for some of the children whose parents died on September 11, 2001.
“Nice and easy, push hard,” a firefighter said.
The kids learned how to lift cars into the air and pry doors open during a fire.
“When I say hit, you hit,” the firefighter said.
Take your child to work day was extra special for a few lucky kids.
“I’ve never been a real fire house before and I got to learn about how the fire trucks work,” said Angio Baytos, a participant.
The experience is thanks to “Tuesday’s Children“, an organization supporting kids affected by 9/11, those who lost a loved one in the military, or on the job as a first responder.
Even on what turned out to be a busy day for the fire house in Queens Village, firefighters took their time showing the young ones the ropes.
“They literally just got in and now they’re leaving again,” a child said.
“They have to go out a lot it seems, because they’ve gone out like four times already since we’ve been here, and we’ve only been here like two hours,” another child said.
“I got to slide down the pole,” another participant said.
They even got to get geared up from head to toe.
“I feel like there’s something really heavy on me, also like something holding me on my leg trying to get me,” another child said.
“The fire department does a great job and when these kids come every year, it’s nice to show them what it’s all about, teach them things and give them advice they can use, and maybe talk a few of them into joining the fire department,” said Keith Baccari, FDNY.
“I’ll keep being a firefighter in mind,” a child said.
“I might be a gamer or a fireman, we’ll talk,” another said.
RIDGEWOOD – When Joseph Palombo laces up his running shoes for the United Airlines NYC Half-Marathon on Sunday, he will be participating in his first competitive race.
His decision to run 13.1 miles from Central Park to Wall Street has meaning. Palombo is a junior board member with Tuesday’s Children, a non-profit serving families who suffered loss on Sept. 11, 2001, first responders and, more recently, victims of violence and terrorism nationally and internationally. With every mile he runs, he will raise funds and awareness for the organization.
However, Palombo is one of those fateful Tuesday’s children.
“Being somebody whose father died on Sept. 11, my family and I have been helped by a lot of these organizations,” said Palombo, “where they really look out for and support and care for the families who lost a loved one that day.”
Palombo was just 12 years old when he lost his father, Frank, a firefighter who served more than 20 years with FDNY Ladder Co. 105 in Brooklyn. The now 27-year-old plans to run in the memory of the man he described as a “very caring, loving” guy and father.
“He was always happy to play with us,” said Palombo, who is the third of 10 children born to Frank and Jean Palombo. “I remember playing football in the park, and him coming to my hockey games and always giving me advice.
“It’s not that he only gave his life on Sept. 11,” he added. “I think he gave his life for people around him every day of his life.”
His father’s selflessness and devotion to others reverberates through Palombo as he uses his spare time from his job as an accountant to volunteer with Tuesday’s Children.
“I got involved in October or November because I’ve always known people involved in it,” shared Palombo. “I’ve been to a couple events, but a good friend of mine, who’s also on the junior board, invited me to go [to an event] for new members and I went. I loved it.”
Tuesday’s Children, located at Rockefeller Center, was formed in the aftermath of 9/11 in 2001. Since its inception, the recovery and response organization has expanded to accommodate international families and communities impacted by terrorism and traumatic loss. One of Palombo’s favorite programs is Project COMMON BOND, which was launched in 2008 to meet those needs.
“It takes people from many different countries who have been affected by terrorist attacks and it brings them all together,” said Palombo. “They have a camp together.”
The camp focuses on global leadership activities in which participants acquire peace-building and negotiation skills, as well as collaboration in music, drama, movement and sports.
“The kids who I’ve met at COMMON BOND come together and talk to each other,” said Palombo. “And they can relate to each other on a level that maybe you can’t relate to certain kids from school because they haven’t experienced what you’ve experienced.”
And Palombo understands how important it is to find kinship with others who lost a parent that day, and not just a perished 9/11 hero.
“I guess for me, my dad was always a hero before he died,” he explained. “That’s how a lot of the kids feel.”
To Palombo, seeing his 46-year-old father on the morning of 9/11 was just like any other day in their Brooklyn household. Even when his mother picked him and his siblings up at school, and said, “There was a terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, and your dad was there,” it didn’t occur to him that his father could die.
“In my mind, nothing’s going to happen to him,” recalled Palombo. “He’s probably just saving people.”
He was not fazed until his family members and neighbors were coming over his house, stricken with worry. He went to bed that night, but awoke the next morning to hear his mother tell him that “they haven’t found him yet and nobody knows where he is.”
“There was still that uncertainty I guess for a couple days,” said Palombo. “Nobody knew if he was coming home or not, or if he was just helping people to the hospital. It was such a crazy time, but I think it really hit me the next morning, after Sept. 12, that my dad’s not coming home.”
The Palombos found solace in their family, who stayed with them at the house for an entire week.
“They were feeding us, they were taking care of us and really showed me how much people loved my mom and my dad,” he said.
His father’s colleagues would also drop by regularly, cooking the family dinner and bringing over the fire truck so the kids could play on it. The constant support they received was comforting, he said.
“I knew life goes on,” said Palombo. “It was a new normal. It was always going to be different, but I still feel my dad’s presence in my life.”
The family relocated to Ridgewood in 2006, but tragedy hit once again when Jean passed away from cancer a couple years ago. Palombo continues to put one foot forward, bearing the kind of resilience Tuesday’s Children looks to impart to families with its programs. And he is more than willing to help with that.
“I try to go to as many events as I could possibly go to,” said Palombo, already having served as a mentor to kids who need help with their resumes and finding jobs at Tuesday’s Children’s LinkedIn workshops.
He is also looking ahead at future events like Kentucky Derby Day and Rise Up Downtown, a commemorative gala held during the weekend of 9/11 in downtown New York to benefit Tuesday’s Children. But on his plate right now is getting through his first half-marathon, which he will be running with three other Tuesday’s Children endurance team members. He hopes his family will be there early in the morning, cheering him on.
“I’m going to try to get them to wake up,” he said with a laugh. “They’re heavy sleepers.”
Taking after his father, Palombo has never been a big runner. But his desire to raise funds for Tuesday’s Children — Team Tuesday’s has raised $900,000 in endurance fundraising since it was founded — has made him sign up for the Berlin Marathon in September. It’s his way of giving back to organizations that helped him cope and “become who I am today,” he said.
“It’s something that I think I benefitted from,” said Palombo. “And I’m happy to, at this point in my life, let people receive what I’ve received.”
His parents would certainly be proud.