By Victoria Leistman Long Island Herald
Last year, Brendan and Sean Corrigan established the Captain James Corrigan Memorial Foundation (CJCMF) to raise funds for critically ill children and honor the memory of their father, September 11 victim Captain James Corrigan.
During the attacks that day, Corrigan, who was a retired firefighter and a Fire Safety Director at the World Trade Center, assisted with the successful evacuation of every child in the World Trade Center Plaza daycare center before returning to the towers where he perished.
Corrigan’s sons, who are two years apart, had been talking about the project since their father’s death and after a decade, were finally able to realize their plan.
“We thought we’d like to do something to keep his memory alive,” Brendan said of the decision to start the foundation. “We want to keep that theme [of helping children] going and remind people of what he did.”
The CJCMF held its first fundraiser on Oct. 8, 2011 at the Bungalow Bar & Restaurant in Far Rockaway. Contributors paid a $50.00 cover charge and participated in a raffle and 50/50 events that included a grand prize vacation. The event raised almost $20,000 — funds that were donated to the families of children facing serious health issues.
“It’s as good for us as it is for them because it helps us deal with our loss.” Brendan said.
Each year, the foundation tries to target one fire department family and one civilian family in the tri-state area to receive its grants. The 2011 beneficiaries were 4-year-old Maggie Russo of Staten Island and 9-year old Kendall Curnuck of Rockville Centre.
Maggie, the daughter of an FDNY lieutenant, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma just before her second birthday. Although the cancer resulted in the loss of her left eye, Maggie made it through numerous treatments and now lives a normal life. She will continue to be screened for the return of the cancer.
Kendall was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in January 2010. Last July, her story appeared on Access Elevator’s web series, “Elevated.” The episode “Meet Kendall,” detailed the Wilson Elementary School student’s battle with the disease. The Make-a-Wish Foundation also took interest in Kendall’s case, sending her to Hawaii so she could receive a surfing lesson from her idol, the teen that lost her arm in a shark attack, Bethany Hamilton. With the help of local fundraisers in April 2011 and that of the CJCMF, Kendall recently completed chemotherapy and is continuing to receive medical care to help her fight the side effects of long-term treatment. Several stories about Kendall appeared in the Herald.
Brendan and Sean both chose to become firefighters following September 11. Sean took his father’s badge number and is currently serving at Engine 317 in St. Albans, Queens. Brendan, who lives in Rockville Centre and previously worked on Wall Street, is now stationed at his father’s original firehouse, Ladder 147 in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
“[We] wouldn’t have imagined in the universe that we’d be doing what we’re doing,” Brendan said, “but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Local 2011 contributors to CJCMF included Kasey’s Kitchen & Cocktails, George Martin Restaurant, MacArthur Park Restaurant & Pub, Cannon’s Blackthorn Irish American Restaurant and Bar and Village Liquors. McBreen’s Beverage in Lynbrook and Oceanside Auto Wash, along with businesses in Long Beach and Freeport also participated as donors. The CJCMF also recognized the Brull, Callahan, Lennon, Owens and Stines families as key benefactors last year.
The FDNY child identified to receive this year’s profits will be Aidan Crowley, who was born with a double inlet left ventricle, a rare heart disease. Son of firefighter John Crowley of Ladder 105 in Brooklyn, Aidan has already had one open-heart surgery and will need two more before he turns 5.
The 2012 fundraiser will be held on September 29 at the Bungalow Bar from 2-6 p.m. The CJCMF is still seeking a civilian family with an ill child who can become the foundation’s second beneficiary this year.
For more information about the foundation or to submit information about a child in need, contact Brendan Corrigan at firstname.lastname@example.org or refer to the CJCMF Facebook page.