By KEVIN LIMITI
A grant of $100,000 was given to a Fire Department of New York foundation Thursday by an anonymous 9/11 first responder, who gave back half of his own reward after his cancer went into remission and agreed to the donation only under condition of anonymity.
The donor believed he money could be better used to help firefighters who were still suffering from cancer. After other donations were factored in, the total amount received by the foundation was $400,000.
The checks were presented at the Fire Zone, an FDNY store on 51st street in Manhattan that also helps teach children about fire safety. The entrance of the store had half of a replica fire truck with flashing red lights, and the presentation of the check was given in an area that had a tattered couch and a burnt out wall meant to simulate the effects of a fire.
9/11 first responders, “experience a disproportionate share of the suffering,” said Michael Barasch, an attorney who represents first responders.
“Whenever a client beats cancer, it’s a powerful moment,” Barasch said. “They want to pay it forward and there is no better way than contributing to Fired up for a Cure.”
Fired up for a Cure, the recipient of the donation, exists to help firefighters who “endured the rescue and recovery efforts” of 9/11 and other first responders with the goal to “educate, promote awareness, provide screening, and raise critical funds to support cancer research,” according to the website.
“It’s not a matter of if I get cancer but when I get cancer,” retired deputy fire chief Richard Alles said of the anxiety of 9/11 first responders. He said that legislation such as the Zadroga Act, signed into law by former President Barack Obama, was helpful. The act was named after a first responder who died from an illness that an autopsy confirmed was directly related to 9/11.
The toxic fumes from 9/11 caused close to 10,000 people to be affected during the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Lower Manhattan.
The real reason nobody is paying attention, according to Alles, is that “9/11 is ancient history.”