Wednesday, September 2, 2015

September 11th- Keeping a Promise to Never Forget

I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. An LAFD USAR Task Force member and good friend of mine, had just returned from a tour at Ground Zero. I asked him what moved him the most while he was there for 2 weeks; arriving within days of the horrible event. He told me this, "As our Task Force was packing up and getting ready to come home to L.A., we were all shaking hands with the FDNY Firefighters we had worked alongside. One grabbed my hand...squeezed it firmly...looked me straight in the eyes...and said, PLEASE DON'T FORGET US."

This moved me to find some way to assure the FDNY that we would never forget. It came in the form of a uniform that included symbols of the day we lost 343 brave brothers...and one that sent them a clear message that we would NEVER FORGET them.

The design of the patch was created and displayed on a banner that was presented to 6 FDNY bike riders that rode across America to thank Americans for their outpouring of love and support. The "Thank You America Tour," started In the Bowery (Manhattan) and ended in Pasadena, California...less than a mile away from where I had been stationed as a Firefighter for the previous 15 years. It was an opportunity to get the acceptance and support from FDNY members prior to producing the patch.

Pasadena, California- Oct. 2001
The 9-11 Patch Project was created in December of 2001 with the goals to get as many of the 9-11 Patches on uniforms as possible while raising funds. It was to begin the healing process and make that promise to Never Forget them. Proceeds from the sale of the $3 patches would go on to benefit the UFA and other 9/11 related charities. 
Fire Departments around the world came forward...even all branches of the U.S. Military stepped up as if to say, we are your brothers too and we will fight in your honor. The project evolved to create decals, challenge coins and other memorial items to keep the memory alive and raise funds.

Today, the project has served over 10,000 organizations in 30 plus countries. Even firefighters from other countries chose to wear the 9-11 Patches on their uniforms. (pictured left: Greater Manchester FD in the UK)

Keeping this project on everyone's radar all year round has been a tough nut to crack. Beating the same drum loudly and nearly every day the past 13 years, has most likely been seen as bordering on obsession by many others. So what does one do? I believe this is the answer; 9-11 and the loss of life to the 1st Responder community on that day is part of our history and our future. We remember our fallen brothers and we assure them that we will Never Forget. Some will appreciate this while others will simply move on. Beyond that, we also remind those who choose this profession, of what those who came before them were willing to do and actually did for people they never even met.

Those 1st Responder agencies that wear one of the 9-11 Patches are truly wearing their hearts on their sleeves and sharing common threads. We're not completely healed from the tragedy of that day but we are slowly getting "patched up," and I think that means a lot to our FDNY brothers, some of who are beginning to wear the patches as well.

Learn more about the 9-11 Patch Project here:

Be a sponsor to an FDNY Firehouse and send them the 9-11 Patches for free here:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Thank You Heavy Smoke Apparel!

Even before Heavy Smoke Apparel became our $911 Sponsor, they were giving back to the 9-11 Patch Project. Each time they sold one of their "9-11 Helmet Wraps," they set some aside for us. They have already made multiple donations to our organization!

What's really cool about their 9-11 Helmet Wraps is that they fit under the fire helmet (under the lid) and really add a cool touch to any helmet. Beyond that, I really like them because every time a firefighter takes off his helmet, he is respecting the FDNY 343, lost on 9/11.

In their words: We are a company based in New York who feel very passionate about the designs and products we make.  We use the best possible products available to us so you will be completely satisfied with our company and what we stand for.  Our mission is to start a movement and make a statement to those who fight for our lives on a daily basis.  We hope you wear and use our products as proudly as we have in designing them.  We support our troops, and remember all who have laid their lives on the line in days passed and who will be doing the same in days to come.  Please help support our country and our products so we can one day give back. 

I really like the last two sentences as it says so much about this great company. Some say they give
back but there is no question that these folks really do.  Being on the receiving end of donations, we know that no truer words have been written! You can see our logo and the logo's of other organizations they give back to on this page.

Heavy Smoke Apparel also has some other cool decals and apparel that really stands out from others out there. They have their own unique look and designs--so take a look.

Thanks for your support Heavy Smoke Apparel, we are honored and humbled!

Monday, March 16, 2015

"RISE", Setting You up to FALL

This graphic was copied from the page. I added the "Thank God this loan is paid off" caption because that is really what the man in the graphic is celebrating.

The predatory loan is NOT IN YOUR CONTROL nor is it "PROGRESS!"

If you want a $2600 loan that you most likely will be approved for, than get ready to pay 300%+ interest. In fact, you will pay over $1200 in interest your first 5 payments and still have a balance of $2800 for your 6th payment. Wait a minute...isn't that loan going up when you pay rather than down? Yes, it most definitely is!!

So the name of the company "RISE" has nothing to do with what you will be doing to your credit or lifestyle once you begin a loan like this. This poor excuse for a company should be re-named "FALL," because that is what they are setting you up to do!

Imagine being suckered into a scheme that boasts you will finally get the money you need and begin rebuilding your credit. They promise to give you points if you pay on time--for your birthday--and for attending "credit school". So it takes about 4 months to get 5% off on your loan and after two years (when the loan is supposed to be paid off), you get 50% off. Wow, in the meantime, you make bi-weekly (yes every two weeks) payments of $247 or nearly $500 a month. That's a whole lot of cashola--especially when you are not even biting into principal for about 6 months.

Run away and run fast. Nobody deserves this kind of scam--not even your worst enemy! The only difference between this company and the mafia, is that they may not break your legs if you don't pay on time. 

If you don't believe me, head over to this site and see who else feels this way: PissedConsumer

I absolutely despise this company!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Thanks to the Premier Magazine for America's Municipalities
The 9-11 Patch Project is honored to announce "The Municipal" has become our latest $911 Sponsor! The Municipal Magazine is sent out to 25,000 City Department Heads in 18 States, 12 times a year. Companies with products/services can get their message directly out to folks in specific city departments who have the purchasing power. The Municipal will also be sending out an announcement about the 9-11 Patch Project in 2 monthly magazines. Getting the project out in front of City Fire, EMS & Police is what the project has worked on the past 13 years- this partnership with The Municipal will help make that happen! We thank The Municipal for stepping up to sponsor and partner with us...they are another organization that gives back and you should all be aware of that!

ABOUT THE MUNICIPAL: The Municipal magazine was started in 2011 as the premier monthly magazine for America’s municipalities. We are a free publication that is direct mailed to 25,000 city managers, street/highway departments, parks and recreation managers, utility/public works supervisors, transportation / fleet professionals and fire/rescue / police chiefs in 18 states – Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

Our goal every month is to inform municipalities of the choices available to make effective purchasing decisions.

The Municipal magazine is owned by The Papers Inc in Milford, Indiana. Twenty five weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines are published under our corporate name.

Have a product or service you would like to get in front of those who have the purchasing power? Contact The Municipal and find out how easily you can get this done. Again, we thank The Municipal for stepping up to become our latest sponsor! We look forward to working with them in the near future and hope that you take a moment to thank them on our behalf.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Good News For Firefighters and First Responders
People trust firefighters...they always have and they always will. In the mortgage loan market, few know who they can really trust; especially in light of the economy collapse, blamed largely on too-good-to-be-true-and-work-for-you loans, a few years back. Build a mortgage loan company made up of firefighters, and now you have the one and only company I will make that call to when I need a loan or "Refi."

Maybe it's because I have been a firefighter for over 25 years and am tired of dealing with people I really can't trust. Or maybe because I have talked with one of the firefighter owners of the company and really feel the brotherhood! In their words, "Founded and run by Firefighters, We are committed to providing exceptional value to our brother and sister Firefighters, First Responders, and their families.We understand you have many choices when selecting a mortgage company. That said, we try to make your choice simple by offering unparalleled value, service and integrity."

What about giving back? How many mortgage companies out there are trustworthy of your money and how many actually give back? gives back because they have given to the heroes of 9/11; both as a $911 Sponsor and an FDNY Firehouse Sponsor. They have also given back to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, St. Jude Children's Research Center, Any Soldier INC, the MDA and the FDNY's UFA Scholarship Fund. 

If you are a Firefighter, Paramedic or any first responder, I believe you owe it to yourself to check them out...give them a call...why wouldn't you? Finally the word "Trust" can now be synonymous with mortgages!

As a Firefighter and owner of the 9-11 Patch Project, I am grateful that a mortgage company like Firefighter Mortgages came along, and I am grateful that they have stepped up to sponsor us and become an important part of the historical FDNY Firehouse Sponsor program.

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