Project Rebirth, Inc., the resilience resource for those who serve community and country, announces a firefighter’s widow whose voice of hope is featured in the new 9/11 Museum this week shares her message that you can find joy after pain with hundreds of others who’ve lost their spouse.
Tanya Villanueva Tepper, whose fiancé Sergio died on 9/11 as he fought to save lives in the World Trade Center, will be a featured speaker July 12 at Camp Widow in San Diego, California.
“I am completely blown away with awe after witnessing the healing that takes place,” says Tanya, who speaks several times a year to groups of widows and widowers and volunteers with the not-for-profit, Project Rebirth. “To hear from others that my story gives them hope that they too will get through it validates that all the pain I experienced after losing Sergio was not in vain.”
Tanya has remarried and now lives in Miami, Florida with her husband Ray and their two young daughters.
Her words are part of the uplifting film Rebirth at Ground Zero, which has become one of the most popular exhibits at the new National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York. “Hold your sorrow gently,” whispers Tanya. “If it weren’t for the pain, you wouldn’t know what joy was.” The time-lapse film projected on three walls celebrates not only the rebuilding of the site but the resilience of the human spirit.
Tanya is also profiled in the Peabody Award-winning documentary Rebirth. The 2011 film chronicles over eight years the emotional journeys of Tanya, a teenager, a firefighter and a construction worker who lost loved ones on 9/11, as well as a woman seriously injured in the South Tower. Tanya uses an excerpt of the film in her talk to show others that despite the loss, they can recover, heal and move forward to find happiness.
Camp Widow is the only event of its kind in the country and will bring together hundreds of widows and widowers from around the U.S. and the world. An estimated 900,000 men and women become widowed in the U.S. each year.