9/11 Shamrock fundraiser honors a beloved brother Donald Robertson

Andrew Goudsward, Asbury Park Press

From tragedy to tribute.

That’s how Kathy Cunningham of Spring Lake describes her yearly pilgrimage to New York to run in the “Tunnel to Towers Run” from Brooklyn to Ground Zero.

Cunningham’s brother Donald Robertson was killed in the September 11 attacks while working in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. He was 35 years old.

“He was the life of the party,” Cunningham said, “He lit up every room he walked into.”

Photo courtesy of Steve Lacko

Photo courtesy of Steve Lacko

In the years since, Cunningham has worked to keep his memory alive and give back to the soldiers who went to war because of that awful day.  Each September 30,000 people attend the “Tunnel To Towers Run” to retrace the final steps of Stephen Siller, a New York firefighter who raced through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel to get the World Trade Center site on September 11.

Last year, 300 of these runners wore bright green shirts with a shamrock encased in a heart on the back. Around the shamrock was the name “Donald W. Robertson” and the words “Forever in our Hearts.” Read More »

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Retired FDNY smoke eater Michael O’Connell receives two helmets for the one he lost

Sheila Anne Feeney, AMNY

Retired firefighter Michael O’Connell’s social media campaign to retrieve his stolen FDNY helmet has gotten him the next best thing — two replicas thanks to some good Samaritans.

“There are still amazing people in this world!,” O’Connell said.

Michael O'Connell, retired FDNY firefighter who had his helmet stolen, received two replica helmets from good Samaritans. (Credit: Facebook.com/findthisFDNYhelmet)

Michael O’Connell, retired FDNY firefighter who had his helmet stolen, received two replica helmets from good Samaritans. (Credit: Facebook.com/findthisFDNYhelmet)

O’Connell, 39, recently turned to Facebook to track down the significant memento that he wore at Ground Zero following 9/11 and hoped to leave to his three children.

What came back instead were two painstakingly created replica helmets from good Samaritans hoping to soothe the sting of his loss and an avalanche of human kindness and compassion.

“I’m taking the good out of this story, not the bad,” said O’Connell, who was forced to retire from the FDNY after being diagnosed with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease [afflicting many recovery workers] that attacks the lungs and lymphatic system, in 2007. “We live in an amazing world. So many people are willing to help. I hope people recognize this more than all the hate out there,” he said. Read More »

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A Crossroads Decades Gone Will Reopen at the World Trade Center

David W. Dunlap,  New York Times

When the chain-link fences are pushed aside this week, pedestrians will be able to cross the crossroads of Greenwich and Fulton Streets in Lower Manhattan. This is big news.

Like eight other intersections, the crossroads was subsumed in 1967 into the 16-acre superblock on which the World Trade Center was built. Since September 11, 2001, its four corners have been occupied by rescue workers, recovery workers or construction workers.

Workers putting crossing lines on Greenwich Street. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Workers putting crossing lines on Greenwich Street. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

On Thursday, the crossroads is to return to public use for the first time since ham-radio and hi-fi buffs swarmed the little appliance and electronics stores of Radio Row, squeezing past flower and food shops whose goods spilled out to the streets, resisting the temptation to buy a three-and-a-half-foot baby elephant for $3,000 at Trefflich’s animal dealership.

At the crossroads now are the nearly finished and already dazzling Oculus pavilion of Santiago Calatrava’s $3.9 billion transportation hub; a new half-acre of landscaped plaza at the front entrance of the National September 11 Memorial Museum; the full-block site of 2 World Trade Center, newly redesigned by Bjarke Ingels and already being called the “stairway to heaven”; and a parcel set aside for a performing arts center.

The public will be able to reach the crossroads on foot from the north, west and south. For now, the route from the east is blocked by construction activity and staging.

Here is a prediction: the crossroads will instantly provide a popular photo-op foreground for Mr. Calatrava’s zoomorphic Oculus, whether you think the pavilion looks like a stegosaurus lumbering through the swamp white oaks or like a bird taking flight from the treetops — or simply like a Calatrava sculpture on a monumental scale. Read More »

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