The Foley family of Rockland County in New York, along with the 9/11 Education Foundation and the Town of Clarkstown, is hosting a two-day event to mark the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, and to bring attention to the ongoing consequences felt by families who are still suffering from the effects.
The event, "9/11 – Remember – Reflect – Educate," is aimed at honoring the heroes lost during and after that tragic day and promoting education, reflection, and remembrance around 9/11.
The event will take place on Saturday, October 2, from 11 am to 8 pm, and on Sunday, October 3, from 11 am to 6 pm, at Germonds Park, 185 Germonds Road in West Nyack, New York. An opening ceremony will take place on Saturday at 1 pm.
For years, the Foley family has brought the 9/11 NEVER FORGET mobile exhibit to high schools across Rockland, Orange, and Westchester counties. The 9/11 Mobile Exhibit is a high-tech, 83-foot tractor-trailer that transforms into an educational exhibit and will also be onsite for both days.
In 2013, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation launched its 9/11 NEVER FORGET Mobile Exhibit, a tribute to all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, including the 343 members of the FDNY who made the ultimate sacrifice. The tractor-trailer, which transforms into a 1,100 square foot exhibit, is a tool to further educate people about the events of that tragic day and includes artifacts such as steel beams from the towers, documentary videos, and recordings of first responder radio transmissions. Interactive guided tours are carried out by FDNY firefighters who provide firsthand accounts of the day and its aftermath.
The Rockland County event will also include onsite vendors and sponsor tables, family activities including corn hole and mini-golf tournaments, children’s inflatables, and face painting, as well as food trucks and a wine and beer tent.
There will also be live music both days, featuring headliner Irish folk band Celtic Cross, Cousins Moran, Sheridan Rúitín, Country Fresh, and Reflections. All proceeds from the event benefit the 9/11 Education Foundation.
The event is highly personal for the Foley family. September 11, 2001, changed the Foley family forever, but memories will live on.
Tom Foley and his wife Pat rooted themselves in the West Nyack community to raise their family. They instilled in their three children, Joanne, Tommy, and Danny, the importance of hard work, faith, and family.
On September 11, 2001, along with his brothers in Rescue 3, their son Tommy ran towards the unknown at Ground Zero with the sole intent to save others. On that day, he made the ultimate sacrifice doing what he often referred to as “the greatest job in the world.” Tommy lived each day with true intent and unbridled passion, and he made an unforgettable impact on everyone he met.
The younger brother of Tommy, Danny, followed in his brother’s footsteps and also became an NYC firefighter. On September 11, 2001, when Danny realized that Tommy was at the World Trade Center, he made a solemn vow to his parents to find Tommy and bring him home.
Danny, along with his father Tom, spent each day at Ground Zero looking for Tommy; they were tireless in their search. On day 11 of their efforts, the Foley family received their miracle in a different form than they originally prayed. Danny found his brother and brought him home.
Danny and his dad continued Tom’s purpose, grounded in service to others, returning to Ground Zero after Tommy was laid to rest to help other families find a semblance of peace. They, like thousands of others, would feel the effects of these acts of selflessness in years to come.
In the summer of 2016, Tom and his family learned that his time at Ground Zero 15 years prior was responsible for his diagnosis of a 9/11 related leukemia. Three months after that diagnosis, Tom passed away surrounded by family, including his daughter Joanne and his son Danny.
Danny built a beautiful family with his wife, Carrie. Together they were blessed with four daughters, Erin, Kiera, Brianne, and Kendall, and then their son, Thomas James, affectionately known to all as TJ, completed their family.
Through their marriage, Danny and Carrie created a lifetime of memories, as is the Foley way, living life to the fullest, surrounded by family and friends. Danny loved his family fiercely and they were by his side in 2019 when he was diagnosed with 9/11 related pancreatic cancer.
Danny endured his illness with the same determination and bravery that he did 18 years earlier when he ran into the unknown at Ground Zero to find his brother. He fought with unwavering faith and genuine grace, and never questioned his purpose in this life. He loved fully and left a lasting impression on every person he met. Danny passed away on February 22, 2020.
There is a suggested donation of $20 per family to attend the event. To register to attend, visit 911EducationFoundation.org You can also follow #FOLEYSTRONG on social media for updates and information. Sponsorship opportunities are available. To find out more, email info@911EducationFoundation.org.
*This column first appeared in the September 15 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.