This week, as the nation marks the 17th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Stand Fast Alliance (SFA) is proud to announce the expansion of their resiliency training program to support and empower more first responders, military and their families. The program currently educates and trains individuals using various applied psychophysiology and biofeedback techniques to help them sharpen their mental performance, enhance decision-making skills and build resiliency, on and off duty. SFA also provides scholarships for training in HRV biofeedback to eligible law enforcement, first responders and military, who are interested in earning their certification to help others. For details about the program and how to apply for a training scholarship, visit StandFastAlliance.org.
Tribute given by Ron's daughter on 9/11/2017
For the last sixteen years, we have held a luncheon in remembrance of my dad. On September 11th, 2001 we all know tragedy occurred around the United States. It was a life changing moment in so many ways. At the time, I worked in midtown Manhattan. The plan was that if something happened in the city, I was to go to my uncle's apartment and stay put for further instructions. My dad was very clear, if I heard sirens and emergency vehicles, he wanted me to walk the other way and get to safety. He was continuously looking out to see that we would stay safe. When we started traveling on our own overseas, he would print out the State Department reports for the country so we would know what to look out for. Even when it tested his patience, he remained calm. For example, in May 2001, my two friends and I decided we would hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and up in a day. When we got down to the bottom, there was a lightning storm and the three of us were worried about a possible flash flood. Fortunately, we found a campsite which had a pay phone, so, naturally, I called my dad.
"Hey dad, how's it going? So, theoretically, if you were at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and there was a lightning storm, how would you handle it? Hypothetically speaking, of course."
To which I heard a sigh and a great summoning of parental patience.
"Well, I probably would not talk too long in a metal phone booth."
Long story short, we survived but it was a great comfort knowing I could call my dad at anytime.
Then 9/11 happened and that safety net was gone. I had never felt so vulnerable in my life. But, sometimes from tragedy, good also arises. The fire marshals came and made sure someone stayed with us every night until my dad was found. Family surrounded us and our family grew. After the first anniversary, this luncheon began in remembrance of my dad. The act of sitting and eating and telling stories reminded me of a big Sunday dinner with the family. Every year, the luncheon grew in size and it was a remembrance of my dad but it also became a reunion of family, like people we had not seen in awhile and were excited to talk to and catch up. Then the luncheon grew even more in size to include military and members that both my dad and brother served with. Through this luncheon, relationships were formed and connections were made. Connections between the fire department and military formed. The luncheon isn't just a remembrance of my dad, it's a family reunion and family is what helped us grow stronger in a time of vulnerability.
It can be the small or big acts of kindness that had made the difference. Whether it was driving down from New Hampshire or flying in from Kansas or just taking time from your day to be here makes us thankful for your support. In this day and age with so many man made and natural disasters and where people are at their most vulnerable, it is important to come together, like a family, and support each other. My dad was all about making the world a better place.
Tribute given by Ron's daughter on 9/11/2015
My dad was a resilient man and he instilled that in our family from a very early age. Whenever my brother and I would get upset that something was not going the way he wanted, he would impart his words of wisdom…or dad “isms” if you will. “You have to bend like a reed in the wind” meaning, you never break but you can be flexible. Another popular one was “You just need to go with the flow”. Sometimes by doing that, you figured out another way to do what you needed.
Most people have heard the story of how my dad became the “Flying Fireman”. For those of you who don’t, I’ll give a brief recap. In 1986, he fell 5 stories off a fire escape trying to gain access to a building during a fire. He broke his back but while on the stretcher, he told my mom he would be back to work in a year and he was true to his word. Most people don’t know what went on during that year but it taught me an incredible amount about resiliency.
During that year, my dad became Tetris champion. We had recently gotten Nintendo much to mine and my brother’s excitement. However, we did not realize we would have to fight my dad for playing time. He really got into trying to fit those Tetris pieces into the puzzle. He also got to the highest level of the Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? computer game. We’re going back a few years but it was a game where you had to try and figure out where Carmen San Diego was hiding around the world by the clues that she left. When he was a bit more mobile, he started to help me train for the annual mile run at my elementary school. It was a really big event at the school and I was determined to improve my time. So my dad would take me down to the local track and practice running with me. I think it was as good for him as it was for me. The day of the race he ran along side me and I didn’t win first but I had a personal best time. The most important part for me was when I was really tired during the race and wanted to slow down and walk, I would look at my dad next to me and it made me determined to do my best. I apparently was not the only one inspired by my dad because after a year, when he returned to work after his accident, he contributed to the fitness program at the Rock because a number of people had said how inspiring his recovery had been.
My dad could have given up after the accident. He could have laid around and felt sorry himself but that’s not who he was. He kept him mind going with Tetris and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? He set challenges for himself and when he met the challenge, he created his next one. And I very clearly remember my dad still being silly and goofy and keeping his sense of humor. If something wasn't great, he would flat out say it and then laugh at himself. This taught me resiliency. This taught me there is more than one way to do something. It also taught me that resiliency comes from within and from without. My dad had the tools within him to help him move forward but he also had a good support network. My mom believed in him. My brother and I believed in him. His family believed in him. I’d like to think it was a combination of all those things that made him stronger and able to move forward. It’s made us, as a family, able to move forward even when he is not with us.
On Veteran's Day (November 11, 2014), we dedicated a new Ford Escape to the Fire Family Transport Foundation. FFTS assists families of firefighters in their times of greatest need, in transporting firefighters, family members and department personnel to and from medical institutions both for care and family support. We are happy to say that in 2018 the Bucca Transport Car is still actively serving the fire community.
Our donation was inspired by the support that Ron and our family received in 1986 after his on the job fall while serving with Rescue 1. Transportation assistance was an invaluable help to him and our family during his long recovery. We're proud the Bucca Transport Car will now help other FDNY families in their time of need.
We thank and honor all of those who searched through ground zero during those dark days and those who continue to protect and serve.