Thursday, December 26, 2013

9/11 Through Allies Eye

Allie Hill
She's 19, blind in one eye, thinks like an 8 year old, has short flat thumbs and toes, and other so called abnormalities. But to us, she is our daughter and we could never imagine any other version of Allie. Ask her what 9/11 means to her and she will tell you, " 9/11 is when planes flew into buildings and killed a lot of people." But she knows so much more...

About Allie: At birth, the doctors told us she would be blind, unable to talk, unable to walk-speak-or even read. One doctor, who was also a good friend of ours, thought it best if we think about institutionalizing Allie to save our marriage. Some friend!

We spent the first two years just trying to keep Allie alive. At one year, Allie was just a little bigger than her birth weight and failed to thrive. We fought every day to keep food in her and watched her every movement. Allie was my wife's new full devotion in life as she had to quit her job. We pulled out all the stops to insure our daughter had the best chance at as much of a "normal" life as possible.With my 48 hour schedule at the fire department, I spent many of my off days with her as well. It was truly a team effort.

With around the clock physical, speech and other necessary therapists, she began to grow and thrive. It took 3 years but she crawled--it took 5 years but she walked--it took 7 years but she talked. We even had her plugged into Equestrian Therapy which helped her develop and overcome the hurtles typical with special needs development. 

It used to bother me when people starred. Yes she looked different and not so "normal" but who is really normal anyway? It bothered me because she was my daughter and I loved her so much. I guess people did not see what we saw. 

She was diagnosed with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome at birth and many of these rare (1 in 300,000) special needs children had many abnormalities including; blindness, digital defects, microcephally, significant mental delays and other issues similar to downs syndrome. 

Allie grew to read, write and have pretty normal conversations with people. In fact at times, if it wasn't for how people viewed her, she would fit in pretty well. She is a miracle and all the hard work and determination has paid off!

Back to 9/11: Allie was about 7 when September 11, 2001 came. She sat in the bed between my wife and I and saw the 2nd plane hit the WTC towers. She saw us cry and began crying. She may not have realized what was happening but she shared our emotions. As we saw the first tower fall, Allie watched it with us. She hadn't fully developed her speech at that point in her life but was able to ask the question, "Daddy was there people in that building?" 

Having witnessed the death of 1000's of people and knowing there were also brother firefighters in the buildings, I held her tight and tried my best to explain what she saw.  She knew what death was when we told her that my mother and father had both died before she was born. But this was very different to her. For the first time she had actually seen buildings full of people fall and she knew....she understood the finality.

Shortly after the tragic events of 9/11, I began the 9-11 Patch Project as my reaction and vision of hope. Being a firefighter on the west coast, I felt far removed. Knowing others would feel the same way, the 9-11 Patch became a way to remember my brother firefighters lost that day and to help others around the world unite. The project would also become a way to raise funds and share the proceeds with organizations that would develop post-9/11. Allie stood by me as the project grew to include the participation of over 10,000 organizations around the world. She was there asking questions and helping all these years.

Allie grew up with the 9-11 Patch Project and with 9/11. Having run this project for 12 years of her life, she now understands what the patches, decals and other memorial items are about. In fact, she probably knows more about 9/11 than most people out there.

Today, over 12 years since we cried together in front of the TV, she knows beyond the tragedy of 9/11 that a glimmer of light shines. She knows the Firefighters, EMT's, Police Officers, U.S,. Soldiers and innocent civilians are being remembered. She no longer remembers planes flying into buildings or crashing to the ground--she remembers the victims and knows her daddy is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they are always remembered.

Monday, December 16, 2013

9-11 Patch Project Hits Twelve Year Mark

2001 Unveiling of new 9-11 Patch to honor the FDNY 343
December 15th, 2013, marked the 12th anniversary of the 9-11 Patch Project. As the photo shows, the design for a uniform patch that 1st Responders could wear to honor the fallen, was unveiled to the FDNY Thank You America Tour, as it ended in Pasadena, California.

6 FDNY bike riders from the Bowery's 33-Engine, who lost 12 of their own, made this 2800 mile trip across America to thank American's for their outpouring of love and support. Their tour ended in Pasadena (west coast) about 1 mile from the 9-11 Patch Project founders station.

Aligning the project with the FDNY and getting their blessing was founder Brett Hill's 1st priority. Two months from the date of this ceremony and when the photo was taken, December 15th, the project began taking orders from fire departments and other organizations around the nation. Orders for the patch would come in to the Valencia project headquarters at 25-50 per day for about 6 months. By the 1st anniversary date of September 11 or 9-11-02, $15,000 arrived in the FDNY Uniformed Firefighters office. This was the net proceeds of selling the $3 patches.

Over the past 12 years, the project grew to include all 1st Responders and our U.S. Military. To date, there are over 10,000 organizations in 30 countries participating. The project also added other patches, decals, a challenge coin, memorial shield and other memorial items.

Beyond the fund raising from the merchandise, other events were held to benefit charities like The Bravest
Scholarship Fund, Terry Farrell Fund and the Feal Good Foundation. The 10 yr 9-11 Manhattan to Manhattan Tour, with FireCareers as the major sponsor, was a large 9-11 Bus that traveled from Manhattan Beach in California to Manhattan NY in 9 months. The tour brought about awareness of the 10 year mark and raised funds at the 275 stops in 30 U.S. States.

The Fully Involved Comedy Tour, featuring comedian Ralphie May, was held in Baltimore during the Firehouse Expo in July of 2012.

Today, with 9-11 a little over 12 years behind us, the 9-11 Patch Project continues to perpetuate the memory of the fallen heroes of 9-11 and raise funds whenever possible. It's tough to keep this project in the minds of folks twelve years later, but the 9-11 Patch Project continues to do it's best. Without the support of so many out there, we would not be around today.

In closing, our latest event is a fund raiser to give the 9-11 Patches to all 11,000 members of the FDNY. This will cost about $15,000 and we are on our way with $983 raised by 23 donors in the past 20 days. With thousands around the world wearing the patch, it makes sense to include the very firefighters who's tragic loss on that day became the inspiration for this project. We don't want any of them to have to pay for these patches. Those who step up are rewarded with patches and challenge coins and their names will go in each patch donation letter that is sent to the FDNY. If you'd like to be part of this great event, please follow this link: 

Thanks to all of you who have supported this project so many years! We appreciate you all as I'm sure the families of the fallen heroes do. More about the project HERE

Monday, July 15, 2013

Not Just Another 9/11

Meet Chief Jack Reed of the Marion Fire Dept. in Illinois. In mid 2002, the Marion FD made the decision to support the 9-11 Patch Project's effort to remember the heroes of 9-11 and add the 9-11 Patch to their uniforms. Evident by the photo of Chief Read still wearing the 9-11 Patch, WE WILL NEVER FORGET means never!

It has been nearly 12 years since the tragic events of 9/11 and there are over 10,000 organizations out there in more than 30 countries that have made that promise to NEVER FORGET by wearing one of the 9-11 Patches. In fact, there are millions of organizations out there that have also made that promise and don't wear a patch.

Do we all need to wear a patch to make that promise? No. But those who have made the 9-11 Patch a part of their uniforms or other official clothing, proudly enforce that promise visually, to one another and members of the public.

The 9-11 Patch Project only came about because of four words spoken by an FDNY firefighter at Ground Zero as he was saying goodbye to the LAFD Task Force back in September of 2011, "PLEASE DON'T FORGET US." Those four words inspired a firefighter from Los Angeles, California, to heed the call for help back in December of 2011. It became one man's mission and grew to become the mission of millions around the world to make a promise to NEVER FORGET. Taking the proceeds from the sale of the patches and donating them to 9/11 related organizations in need, was the icing on the cake.

Beating the WE WILL NEVER FORGET drum constantly over the years is a difficult thing to do--the sound is fading yet the mission continues as strong as ever. Honoring the lives of our fallen heroes must go on as lives continue to be lost as a result of 9/11--from cancer and respiratory deaths related to working the pile for months and years following 9/11, to suicides related to PTSD and Survival Guilt. Just ask John Feal, founder of the Feal Good Foundation, who is the nations strongest and most visible advocate for the health rights of 1st Responders. He has lost many friends since 9/11 and continues to lose them at as many as 30+ monthly.

9/11 is not just a part of our is a part of our lives today...even 12 years later.

Selling the patches and other 9/11 themed merchandise does two things: 1. It provides a means for others to
honor the memory of the fallen and 2. provides funds to keep the 9-11 Patch Project Fund going so that funds can be raised and donated to the 9/11 charities supported over the years.

The 9-11 Patch Project owes a great deal of gratitude to the NEVERFORGET911 facebook page founder, Rich Karns, for all his help in getting the word out to fans of the site. At the time the 9-11 Patch Project founder teamed up with Karns (nearly 4 years ago) the site had about 100k fans. Today, the site is the most interactive and supported 9/11 related facebook page with over 450,000 fans.

Without the help of Karns and all the incredible Sponsors, the project doors would have closed long ago.

Will the 9-11 Patch Project continue? That is entirely up to the support that comes in from the public, public safety, military and other companies/organizations.

In closing, thanks to Chief Reed for his leadership and his willingness to continue to beat the Never Forget drum. Thanks to the thousands of organizations out there that have joined the Chief, thanks to Rich Karns for his work on facebook and finally, thanks to all the sponsors for believing in this project all these years.

Please visit the site and see how you can help and get involved today. Visit the website here: 9-11 Patch Project

Friday, June 21, 2013

They Put on Their Gloves and Showed up to Help

As a former firefighter of 20 years and the founder of the 9/11 Patch Project, I am always excited when a company like HexArmor steps up to become our sponsor! Glove making is a science to HexArmor and they make top-of-the-line products that protect our 1st Responders-- a great fit to our growing list of $911 Sponsors who are giving back.

I met the folks of HexArmor at their booth during this years Firehouse World in San Diego. We also had a booth there. From time to time, I would go out and meet some of the folks on the exhibit floor. What really drew me to HexArmor's booth was their professionalism and kindness. I also noticed from a little distance, it was not just about how they could make a sale or was also about listening to visitors and learning about what folks needs are for hand, arm and body protection. And, spending time with folks like me who come by to talk about sponsorships and other non-glove/body protection stuff was pretty cool. Don't get me wrong, if I had the dough I would have come home with a hand full (get it?). Talk about eye-candy, these gloves were the most colorful protective gloves I'd ever seen!

Even with all the marketing and promotion we do for our sponsors, HexArmor really seemed to care more about how they can help and get involved. So why did they step up? In their own words;  

"HexArmor® strongly believes in supporting causes who share the same beliefs and goals as we do. We believe the 9-11 Patch Project is an example of one such cause – an organization who is not there for themselves, but one who supports and honors the heroes who are continually working hard and making sacrifices to protect and help the public. This belief falls in line with what we, at HexArmor®, constantly try to do: find safety solutions to help those who are risking not only their safety, but their lives, for us.

We, at HexArmor®, believe that sponsoring this project means remembering those from the 9/11 tragedy who gave of themselves, so that others might not only live, but also give. We hope that others will join us and dedicate their efforts to remember and support all the brave men and women who never give up, and are willing to protect, no matter the cost."

So we welcome HexArmor to the 9/11 Patch Project family and thank them for stepping up to sponsor us! 
We thank them for honoring the heroes of 9/11 and look forward to working with them at future fund raising events across the U.S. And hey, if you need great protective gloves for just about any use, why not stop by and see our friends at HexArmor?

Please also visit HexArmor on FACEBOOK and TWITTER and say hello.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Four Words & 12 Years

We met for a brief moment at a local Starbucks in Valencia, California- one month after the tragic events of 9/11/01. Steve Berkery was assigned to LAFD USAR Task Force and had just returned from a tour of duty at Ground Zero, Manhattan. I asked him what moved him the most and he told me it was one FDNY Firefighter's four words, "Please don't forget us."

These four words led me to attempt something that has never been done--design a tribute patch and try and get all firefighters to add it to their uniforms. The 9/11 Patch Project was born and the attempt to notify and get all fire departments on board, began in December of 2001. Funds raised from the sale of the $3 patches would benefit the FDNY's Uniformed Firefighters Association. After 6 months of selling the patches, $15,000 was raised and sent to the UFA on the 1 year anniversary of 9/11. Our initial costs were $18,000 for mailers and about $1.75 per patch. In addition to my full time firefighter/paramedic position, I worked about 40 additional hours per week for nearly 6 months, filling 25-50 orders each day. Orders ranged from many 1-2  patch orders to as many as 500 in one order. By the way, the 500 patch order came from a Hong Kong Fire Officer who bought them for many of his firefighters in China!

Nearly 12 years later, there are over 10,000 organizations in 30 countries that have stepped up to participate in the project. This includes firefighters (domestic and abroad) and deployed U.S. Troops. Photos of firefighters and soldiers were sent in over the years by those proud to count themselves among those who would make a promise to Never Forget.

Even though I was a firefighter reacting to the loss of 343 brothers, it made sense to create a patch with a firefighter, police officer and soldier on it for the 5-year anniversary date of 9/11. Decals, pins, and even a 9/11 Challenge Coin was created later to provide more fund raising merchandise.

How did we survive 12 years?  Aside from the 1st 9 months of fund raising, sales for the 9/11 themed fund
raising merchandise have been very sporadic. So, other fund raising projects needed to be designed and implemented to both raise funds for 9/11 related organizations and for the 9/11 Patch Project Fund; our own fund that was put in place August of 2011 so that we can keep our project running. The 10 Yr 9-11 Manhattan to Manhattan Bus tour was created as a fund raising 10 yr anniversary awareness trip across the United States. The tour ran 9 months--18,000 miles--176 stops and our major sponsor, Fire Careers, drove the bus and met with firefighters and citizens at every stop. $20,000 was raised despite the bus arriving in areas met with some of our nation's largest and most destructive disasters--including Joplin, MO, where the large 40 foot bus had to run for cover. The 9/11 Bus arrived in D.C. in time for the earthquake and in New York right when the hurricane hit Manhattan.

How can you help? We depend heavily on our $911 Sponsor program to keep the project afloat--problem is, many say they will step up and sponsor and few actually do. The program started during the 9/11 Bus trip where we picked up Chicago Firefighters, Philadelphia Firefighters, Baltimore Firefighters, Cataret Firefighters and Northrop Grumman, among others, as $911 Sponsors.

Back then, we put our sponsor logos on the side of the giant bus and thousands would see them as it traveled across the U.S. for months. Today, we do things a bit differently. You see, we feel if you are willing to step up and help us out, we are willing to promote your organization from our website, blog, newsletters, 4 Facebook pages, press releases, trade shows and Twitter. It is no secret that our promotion works--we have plenty of testimonials we can send those with cold feet. Many will still spend thousands for trade magazine ad's when they can spend far less with us and get tons more promotion.

The 9/11 Patch Project is the largest, longest running and farthest reaching firefighter owned 9/11 project in the world. We are proud to make that claim and hope that you consider helping us continue to do great work all over the world to remember the heroes of 9/11. We need heroes too--become ours HERE.

Brett Hill- Former Firefighter/Paramedic & Founder
9/11 Patch Project

Friday, May 17, 2013

Companies Stepping up on Behalf of 9/11 Organizations

What do you say to firefighter owned companies like HazSim that step up to sponsor non profit efforts like the 9/11 Patch Project? You say "Thanks" and do all you can to support their efforts that happen to improve the safety of firefighters around the world!

Money is tight for everyone--especially for relatively new companies. The 9/11 Patch Project realizes that so it becomes more about giving back to us, than just about accepting donations. Sure we need the money to stay afloat but we also believe it is our duty to step up as well and show our support through our social networking channels. That is why our Sponsor programs are not just about receiving donations--they are also about doing some round-the-clock promotion for those companies that step up for us. And we are getting pretty good at it!

HazSim was a natural fit for us as the HAZMAT training simulation software was something we felt would really be contributing to more firefighter and industrial workers longevity. Afterall, the owner is a Fire Captain at a major Southern California fire department and has been saving lives for many years. So he saw a need to improve firefighter safety and came up with a great product that he can use to save the lives of his brother firefighters.

So what is HazSim? I personally had the opportunity to see it work and it clicked with me right away. It is
software built into a device that HAZMAT personnel are use to using. During training at any given organization, a HAZMAT tech suits up, carries his monitor to a specific location. He scans the area with his device and and instructor from another location actually sends them data about the hazardous environment they may be walking into. The instructor can also make the process more interactive by sending the tech some Q & A relating to the environment. Until HazSim came along, training consisted of a static environment where a tech in training may just approach a simulated hazardous situation and see a note pinned to the door about what type of dangerous chemicals may be inside. HazSim has evolved HAZMAT training and people should take notice!

If you are a fire department or any other organization that deals with hazardous environments, I recommend that you take a long hard look at HazSim and what they are doing to improve the safety of HAZMAT Tech's through real-interactive-updated training simulation.

For other companies out there that are looking for a great organization that has remembered the heroes of 9/11 and raised funds for nearly 12 years, step on up and we'll do all we can--whenever we can--to make sure we step up for you. Our organization depends on companies like HazSim to keep our doors open and we can't thank them enough! More about our Sponsor programs HERE

Monday, April 15, 2013


I asked the rhetorical "why?!" question and got plenty of answers when I posted it in several spots on Facebook. I think we all know "why" but none-the-less, frustration sets in and it seems to be one of the first questions that comes to mind after another tragic act of terrorism in a metropolitan U.S. city.

Someone was even charged up enough to call me a "dumb ass," as if I was really that naive. 

Boston MA's marathon was as good as any for an opportunistic terrorist (whether domestic of foreign) and I'm sure there will be other targets. Sadly or better, "tragically," our semi-complacent and free lifestyle will be attacked again and again, and despite our law enforcements best efforts, they cannot plan for every contingency. 

Where's that leave us? Raise your hands American's your all about to be deputized. We are fighting an ongoing battle here and it's up to all of us to evolve neighborhood watch into America's Watch. Example: You see a foreign national or other suspicious looking person drop a backpack into a trash container or leave it near a building and take off....don't leave and call the cops....start evacuating and clear the's not natural. If early evacuation can occur, with a portable explosive of this size, lives can be saved and injuries greatly reduced by clearing them from the blast radius.

We are our nations law enforcements eyes and ears. We are the "tipsters" for our nations first line of defense and we owe it to our fellow American's to step up and take action. We owe it to all 8 year old American's to provide them with a safe environment at all times. Is it the bystanders faults for not noticing what this terrorist did in Boston? No. You can't blame innocent bystanders for believing that security precautions are in place during events like this, but you can include them in your contingencies by telling all visitors or participants to keep their eyes open for things that look at of place. I believe acts like these in Boston cannot go on completely unnoticed. Someone saw something that didn't look right.

Again, bystanders are not to blame here nor are the plans of law enforcement for events like these. There are just not enough officers to see everything they need to that leaves us to be their eyes and ears whenever possible.

Take a simple thing like driving an automobile in the U.S. as an example: I personally drive like someone ahead of me will run a red light, swerve into me or pull out of a side street into my path. It's defensive driving and I have had no accidents over the past 35 years because of it. Should we not do the same when we are in public places or at events where thousands are gathered? We can be in a defensive mode and still have a good safe time.

We can't stop terrorism completely in America...but I think if we all put ourselves in a more defensive mode when at large gatherings, we may be able to reduce the fatalities and injuries should that one place we happen to be, become a target for these heartless cowards.

Just my heart goes out to all those who were injured or killed in Boston today.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Sponsorship That Gives Back

What is a $911 Sponsor and how does it help our non profit organization as well as your company? The short answer is that it is a program initiated by the 9/11 Patch Project to help fund the project. Those who step up to become a $911 Sponsor receive a lifetime of promotion!

In these uncertain economical times, Fire/EMS and other companies are looking for the best bang for their buck. Ad's in major fire magazines can cost thousands and you never really know who sees it or how many sales are generated because of it. And, the Ad can be buried in the magazine--a magazine with a relatively short life span.

CASE STUDY: TheBattalion.TV has been one of $911 Sponsors for nearly 2 years now. You can see them on our sponsor page and even on display at the various trade shows we attend. For instance, during the San Diego Firehouse World show, the 9-11 Patch Project and our partners, Hero Industries and Xtreme Valor, had a 10X20 booth. Our non profit effort to remember the heroes of 9/11 and raise funds for 9/11 charities attracted the interest of the local San Diego KUSI Channel 5 News. We were the only exhibitor at Firehouse World to get the news coverage and this also brought attention to our sponsor, As you can see in this news clip, they received a few exposures due to their large poster we had on display at our booth.

As an admin to the Facebook NeverForget911 page, we also have the opportunity to post info on our sponsors to over 444,000 fans. We also promote those who step up to become our sponsors through our other 3 Facebook pages, Twitter and this BLOG that has well over 35,000 reads.

The $911 Sponsor is a one time donation and we will promote your company for a life time. Spend thousands on magazine articles, newspaper ads or even television ads; or put some of your advertising budget towards a worthy non profit organization and let us promote you through our social media sites as well as events and trade shows we hold or attend. More information on the $911 Sponsor program HERE.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Firefighters- Stand Up and Be Counted!

LACoFD firefighter| Ride for 9-11
Stand up and be counted and have the balls to answer your phones or emails and tell me why we should not respond to an FDNY firefighters request to not be forgotten...

LAFD Task Force Firefighter Berkery was shaking the hands of the FDNY firefighters he had worked alongside at Ground Zero in late September of 2001, when one grabbed his hand tightly--looked him straight in the eyes--and said, "PLEASE DON'T FORGET US."

I heard this story from my LAFD brother while visiting the local Starbucks. Those 4 words led me to take action and respond to the FDNY's firefighters request. I would make a special 9/11 tribute uniform patch and would try and get it on all firefighters uniforms across the U.S. This would be about honoring and remembering our lost 343 brothers--and it would be about taking on the world's largest effort to unite firefighters after the worst attack on the American Homeland in over 50 years.

I have lived the great loss of our brothers on 9/11/01 every day for over 11 years now. I can't forget as it has become my job to make sure others don't forget them. It has taken its toll on myself and my family but yes I is not about me!

And then firefighters from other countries began wearing the patch as if to say, it's our loss too. Even our deployed U.S. Military personnel began wearing the patch in solidarity with U.S. firefighters when the patch was introduced from a Navy SEAL Team 1 member while deployed in Afghanistan, in March of 2002.

Even with 10,000 organizations represented in as many as 30 countries, the patch and the idea, "WE WILL NEVER FORGET," is slowly dieing. It's as if fire departments in the U.S. and abroad are now saying, we will never forget for awhile...and then move on. It absolutely disgusts me to learn that some fire officials out there are actually making their members remove the patch--telling them it is time to move on.

Twice in 10 years, special mailers were sent to every fire department in the U.S. or approximately 40,000. There were not donations to pay the $15,000 for each mailing--it was my personal money and I had no business using it--especially after learning more that 75% of these mailers were not taken seriously and just thrown in the trash. WHAT? Yes, issues like this is not an approved nomex thread patch, or this is not an official request from a higher authority, or someone's probably just capitalizing on the opportunity to make money off the blood of dead firefighters.

As a former fire union president, I even mailed directly to other union presidents and got the poo-poo. What the hell? What happened to the so called brotherhood? Why did some departments come on board without question and others would not? Arrogance, ignorance, or even more prevalent in today's society of firefighters, skepticism! Are there other efforts out there to do the same? Should we choose from different vendors who may be offering a like-patch? Do we get three bids? Geeezzzeee! Even worse to be ignored by "brother" firefighters out there. What the HELL?

Here's the dope brother firefighters: There is no other national or international effort to get a 9/11
FDNY Ladder 163 Firefighters wearing 9/11 patch
Memorial or Tribute Patch added to the uniform. Stand up and be counted and have the balls to answer your phones or emails and tell me why we should not respond to an FDNY firefighters request to not be forgotten. Man up or hide behind your fricken email. Tell me why this does not make sense or why your organization has decided not to participate....just tell me something!

Even one of the largest unions in the USA took forever to get back to me when I asked for their support. The same union (IAFF) that I served as a local president for. When they did, there were those typical conditions; get both FDNY unions on board and we'll consider it. Knowing that most likely they would not support anything merchandise related with a 9/11 theme, I still received the endorsement and support from the FDNY's Uniformed Fire Officers Association, unanimously! The other larger firefighter union, who by the way benefited from the sale of patches to the tune of nearly $20,000, said we can not change our earlier position. Still with the one union on board, the IAFF simply vanished and refused to return my emails.

Let's talk about money. Short of the first 6 months of this effort in 2002, the sale or patches and decals has not been a great fund raiser. When you have one or two patches sold at a time and need to order 100 minimums to get better pricing, all you do is chase the inventory. Sometimes it takes nearly a month to sell 100 patches. That is not what the project is all about--these aren't souvenirs! So the project recently returned to its roots and its all about the team coming on board or no one.

What? You can't approve the patch for the uniform? Then get it on your jacket--your job-shirt--your turnout coat....stand up and be counted or sit down and ignore something that is part of your history of firefighting. Opt out and let your new firefighters learn about 9/11 once a year when you are forced to dress up and have your little obligatory ceremony in front of City Hall. I'm sure your brother firefighters in the FDNY will appreciate your yearly support!

After the 5 year mark of 9/11, I even introduced a patch with a firefighter, police officer and U.S. solider on it. People did not understand this was an effort from a firefighter to remember the loss of 343 brother firefighters so I expanded the project not because of pressure from police and other 1st responders, but because it felt like the right thing to do. Still, the comments from EMT's, construction workers and civilian family members came in chastising me for forgetting them. You can't make everyone satisfied no matter what you do...but I sure tried!

My closing thoughts (if you got this far):  If you haven't figured it out by now, yes I am bitter. I am bitter towards my so called brother firefighters and especially, those who have totally ignored me for years. It is NOT about me and never will be. It is about our duty and call to remember. It is about wearing our hearts on our sleeves and sharing common threads. Finally, it is about one FDNY firefighters simple request that continues to be ignored by thousands of firefighters who would call themselves brothers! There is still much work to do...will you ever be on board? Stand up and be counted here: 9/11 Patches

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Trial By Tire

Shredding a tire while traveling 70mph in the fast lane is never good for ones health--doing the same exact thing 60 miles further really makes one think!

Does lighting strike in the same exact spot twice? Everything I have ever read tells me that it is nearly impossible for that to happen. In my case, a long ride home from a trade show in San Diego to LA, proved to be an experience I will never forget.

I had been at Firehouse World in San Diego where we had exhibited a booth with the 9/11 Patch Project, Xtreme Valor and Hero Industries. It was a great time with great friends yet leaving to return home by 4pm, was something I was ready to do. I had very important career interviews the next day at noon and was really wanting to get home and prepare.

As luck would have it, I was giving one of our partners a ride back to his hotel when he frantically began checking his pockets for his car keys. Soon he discovered that his partner, who had left 45mins earlier, had taken his keys. So he made the call and asked her to drop his keys at a gas station off the 15 fwy and then asked me if I could take him there and then back to his hotel. There was no reluctance on my part, there was no question that I was going to help a brother out.

Traffic had precluded his partner from traveling more than 15-20 miles so it took us about an hour to get his keys and then return to his hotel--we had dinner in between.

By now, it was about 8pm and I decided to head over to the 5 fwy for a fast trip home. About 40 miles out of San Diego I began experiencing a major speed wobble and frantically attempted to keep my Sequoia under control as I made my way to the narrow emergency lane. I safely arrived next to a call box.

As I inspected the rear left tire, it had come apart on the rim and there was not much left--thoughts of a flat spare immediately entered my mind along with my meeting in the morning and a long wait for a tow truck. So I called and told the operator I had Geico road side service and he gave me a 60 min ETA.

While I was waiting, a CHP officer pulled up behind me and said it was best to try and move the vehicle to a safer and wider lane. I drove another mile as the tire continued to shred and tear apart the wheel trim and mud flap.

Finally, the tow driver appeared and suggested he replace the shredded tire with the flat spare--he would later put as much air as he could in it. All seemed to go well as I got back on the road and exited at the nearest gas station to completely fill the on, it gets better! (or worse, actually)

60 miles later, as I was about 30 miles from home, the same exact thing happened--the left rear spare tire completely shredded off the rim and I attempted to make my way to the right shoulder. There was much more traffic at this point and people would not let me get over. Finally, I made it to safety and noticed as I exited the vehicle, that much more damage had been done to the rear wheel well area. I felt lucky to have survived yet another shredding but at the same time, knew this was going to take me into the wee hours of the morning.

Again I called Geico and 30 min's later, a flat bed arrived. By now it was about 1am and all I could think about was my three interviews coming up at noon. By the time he had towed me and my wife arrived, it was about 2am and I finally made it home and in bed at about 3am.

Despite the life changing experience, I arrived for the three interviews at noon with little sleep, but still nailed them all!

Later on I thought about the experience and was thankful that my friend had left his keys in his partners car. Had I just went home from the event at 4pm as planned, I may have made it as far as the location where the 2nd tire blew--changed to the flat spare--gone home to go to bed--and then lost the spare on the way to my interviews. I am confident that I would have missed the three interviews if that scenario had played out.

It was truly a Trial By Tire that I had survived but also a personal experience that proved things do happen for a reason. That tire was going to blow and so was the spare. Having it happen on the open road late at night was much better than when my entire family was in the car--things could have been much worse!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rescue 4 - FDNY's Terry Farrell

The Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund was established in memory of Terry Farrell, a decorated member of Rescue 4/FDNY and Chief of Dix Hills Volunteer Fire Department. Terry, along with 342 of his brothers, perished on September 11th, 2001 in the World Trade Center attack. Our fund is here to assist Firefighters with educational, medical and equipment needs.

Every 3 days, on average a Firefighter gives their life to protect us. Every few minutes a Firefighter is seriously injured. The fund is here to assist the families of those Firefighters when the need arises. We support the Firefighters who serve our communities.

Brian Farrell, brother of Terry and President of the fund, is a gruff out- spoken man with a big heart who has raised 100's of thousands of dollars over the years in his brothers name. Many firefighters and their families have benefited from his persevering hard work since he began this national effort in 2002.

I met Brian on a phone call many years ago, and then finally in person only a couple of years ago. He is a big man with a big presence. Like fellow New Yorker and activist John Feal, Brian is not afraid to say what needs to be said and get the job done. I am proud to have Brian as a friend and happy to use the 9/11 Patch Project as a means to raise much needed funds for the Terry Farrell Fund whenever possible.

The Fully Involved Comedy Tour is the latest fund raising project initiated by the 9/11 Patch Project to attempt to bring a night of the healing power of comedy and fund raising to hundreds  of Southern California residents. The Terry Farrell Fund is one of the great funds that will benefit from this event that stars actor and comedian, Adam Ferrara (Rescue Me, Top Gear U.S., Comedy Central).

As is mentioned on the Terry Farrell Fund website, without the help of citizens out there, his fund will cease to exist and our show will not achieve its fund raising goals. As is the case with the Feal Good Foundation (FGF), the Terry Fund helps firefighters and other 1st Responders in need today.

The 9/11 Patch Project is seeking $911 Lifetime Sponsorships to offset the nearly $12,000 it costs to produce this show which will be at the House of Blues in San Diego on Feb 20th.

Tickets range from $25 (standing room) to $45 (box seats) and can be purchased now from TICKETMASTER.

It is a sad truth that 9/11 happened 12 years ago and many have since moved on--even firefighters. We are indeed a resilient nation but too many of us have forgotten those we need to continue to remember and those who continue to need the nations help. Will you help us and our efforts so we can continue helping those great organizations like the Terry Fund and the Feal Good Foundation continue to do their best work? Remembering and continuing to give will make us a better nation.

Thanks in advance for whatever you are willing to do to support our efforts on Feb 20th down in San Diego. Here is more information on this great night of comedy and fund raising: Fully Involved Comedy Tour

Monday, February 4, 2013


John Feal- Activist for the health rights of 9/11 1st responders

900 more 1st Responders have died because of their selfless actions at Ground Zero...

Because of activist John Feal, (Feal Good Foundation) the Zadroga Bill passed through congress and the senate and over 50 different cancers were added to the bill. The Zadroga 9/11 Compensation is finally beginning to help the thousands who are still alive and dealing with mounting health bills. John is a good friend to the 9/11 Patch Project and we are continuing to raise funds for the Feal Good Foundation and several other related organizations. The 9/11 Patch Project's next event is the Fully Involved Comedy Tour at theHouse of Blues in San Diego on Feb 20th. This is a night of comedy (the healing power of comedy) and an event where all ticket sales will raise funds for the Feal Good Foundation and several other 9/11 related charities.

The tour is the co-production of the 9/11 Patch Project and Xtreme Valor, a company owned and operated by two of FDNY's bravest.

At the center of the event is an actor/comedian who is best know for his role as Chief "Needles" Nelson on the FX series Rescue Me. Adam is currently the co-host of Top Gear America and also has several Comedy Central hits to his name. Here is a message from Adam.

This event will not be successful without the participation of Southern California residents, local fire departments and the quests of Firehouse World. $911 Lifetime Sponosrships are also being offered to offset the nearly $12,000 costs associated with putting on a show of this caliber. 

To help out with a sponsorship or attend the event, please follow this link with all details about this great night of comedy and fund raising: ALL ABOUT THE TOUR