On that clear September morning in 2001, our lives changed forever.
As the two World Trade Center skyscrapers collapsed, we became twin brothers who no longer had a father.
And we weren’t alone. More than 3,000 children under the age of 18 lost a parent that day.
Though our dad’s bigger-than-life legacy continues to live on nearly 18 years later—and will certainly live on for generations to come—the aftermath of having to navigate losing a parent, provider, and hero as two 11-year-old boys was crushing.
It’s a critical time in an adolescent’s development. You are on the cusp of becoming a teenager and trying to figure out your place in the world before really understanding a lot about it.
We were lucky enough to have each other to lean on—along with our mother, who is a pillar of strength and love—but not all children affected by 9/11 were so lucky.
And while that day showed our innocent eyes the kind of evil that can exist, it also showed us the incredible impact of kindness, love, and community support.
Because that was the day we also became two of Tuesday’s Children.
Tuesday’s Children is an inspirational organization born from a time filled with grief and fear.
It all started on that fateful Tuesday morning, when an entire nation suffered heartbreak and terror like never before.
Seeing the need to build a platform of togetherness and system of support for families affected by the tragedy, Tuesday’s Children began to implement a long-term plan to promote resilience.
In an effort to help children and spouses move forward, Tuesday’s Children connected us to other individuals who felt the same complicated feelings that we did. Tragedy strikes many families every day, but having our personal catastrophe played out on a global scale made us feel both part of something greater and completely alone, all at the same time.
For us, and many other kids like us, Tuesday’s Children took a hard look at the parental guidance and experiences we might be missing out on, and sought tangible solutions to these issues.
One program in particular, Take Our Children to Work Day (TOCTWD), provided an experience that neither of us have forgotten.
Take Your Child to Work Day is a normal, annual occurrence for children across America. They get to pack a lunch and head off with Mom or Dad to experience the everyday work life of an adult. (Of course, work seems a lot more fun when you’re an innocent adolescent!)
Recognizing that many of Tuesday’s Children were missing out on this opportunity, the organization arranged Take Our Children to Work Day. Since 2004, over 1,200 kids have visited more than 110 companies around NYC, Boston, D.C., and Jacksonville.
That’s exactly what we did with the program when we were teenagers. It allowed us to feel normal that day, heading off for this unofficial holiday like all our other classmates.
Dan, who at the time was interested in broadcasting, got to spend the day touring CBS studios and bumping elbows with cable executives and on-air talent.
Mike, more into the numbers-driven world of finance, visited the New York Stock Exchange to experience the fast-paced world of trading floors.
It was an eye-opening day for both of us, and allowed us to envision our futures more clearly while gathering expert advice. Our dad would have loved to be a part of it.
Tuesday’s Children continues to do this every year for kids 8-18, this past April touring companies Blue Apron, LinkedIn, and LEGO.
Aside from TOCTWD, Tuesday’s Children also offers a number of resources to help the offspring of 9/11 victims succeed.
We were able to take advantage of services such as career seminars, resume building, help with college applications, and interview training.
And even though we are now grown with a company of our own—one that donates 10 percent of profits back to Tuesday’s Children, which has given us so much—we still value the times we can reunite with other individuals who share our unfortunate, but powerful, bond.
From golf outings and charity events to the annual gala, we always look forward to seeing our Tuesday’s Children family.
It’s a family that has grown significantly in recent years, as the organization continues to provide support to other communities affected by tragedy, terrorism, and traumatic loss.
This past summer, Mike met with newer members of Tuesday’s Children who had suffered losses in the deadly events in Orlando, Las Vegas, and Manchester, as part of the We Go Higher documentary. And though everyone there was grieving a loss, coming together to share stories and each other’s time was cathartic.
Though we hope for a more peaceful world in which the work of Tuesday’s Children isn’t needed, we are eternally grateful for how it has helped two young boys heal and grow into two men who would make our father proud.
To learn more about Tuesday’s Children, visit www.tuesdayschildren.org.