9/11 firefighter visits Craig business to raise money for vets | CraigDailyPress.com

9/11 firefighter visits Craig business to raise money for vets

Retired FDNY firefighter Tom delPino presents TLC Carpet One Floor & Home owner Jay Oxley with piece of steel from the World Trade Center for the business' support of the Building for America Bravest initiative.

It is a day everyone remembers. A day that shook our nation to the core.

On Sept., 11 2001, firefighter Tom delPino was at Ladder 85's firehouse on Staten Island. He turned on a TV in the station's kitchen and saw the news, but it didn't seem real.

Another fireman saw the screen and asked delPino what movie he was watching.

"I think this is real," delPino replied.

He turned on the station's radio and could hear fireman screaming. It was real.

The 110-story South Tower had collapsed before delPino arrived at ground zero. He watched the North Tower fall while en route.

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On that day, delPino lost 343 of his brothers from the New York City Fire Department.

"Certain people survived, certain people didn't," he said.

Fourteen years later, more than 100 first responders have passed from respiratory illnesses and cancer from 9/11. Many more Americans perished overseas in the two ensuing conflicts.

Thursday, delPino, on behalf of the Stephen Siller Tunnel Foundation, was at TLC Carpet One to present owner Jay Oxley with a piece of steel from the World Trade Center and share his story.

The Foundation is founded in memory of a fallen 9/11 firefighter and leads an effort to accommodate disabled veterans with its Building for America's Bravest Program.

With the help of sponsors like TLC, BFAB works to build "smart homes" for veterans with multiple amputations. The homes use the latest technology to help injured veterans go about their daily routine.

"We've committed to build 200 homes for catastrophically injured soldiers, 20 homes are done," delPino said.

TLC has come on board to raise money and provide materials.

According to a news release from TLC, "Carpet One Floor & Home, and its manufacturing partner Mohawk, have committed to providing flooring materials and installation for 46 of these smart homes. Each store’s customers are invited to share information about the program with others. The goal is to collect a donation to ultimately enable the building of at least two more smart homes."

Oxley said he was overwhelmingly honored to have delPino in his store and help contribute to the cause.

"I don't know what the right words would be, we're honored to be a part of just an outstanding program," he said.

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@craigdailypress.com. Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

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