October 29, 2010
Almost ten years ago, on a day when the New York sky was a perfect blue, the unthinkable happened. My friend, Andrea O’Hagan and I lost our husbands during the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. We are the widows of heroes, Lt. Charley Garbarini and Lt. Tom O’Hagan of the FDNY. Over the past nine years, we’ve had a unique opportunity to watch many 9/11 families emerge from their grief to improve the world through large and small acts of kindness. They have inspired us to action.
To honor those who were lost and to acknowledge the courage and accomplishments of those who survived them, we are partnering with award-winning Gage & Gage Productions on a full-length documentary film. “From The Ground Up: 10 Years After 9/11” will recount the trauma, recovery, and rebirth of families of 9/11. Here are just a few of the profiles we’ve documented so far:
- Maureen Fanning, mom of two autistic sons, and her firefighter husband, Jack, had a dream. Two weeks before 9/11, they talked about what they would do if they ever won the Lottery. Jack wanted to start a group home for autistic children. After his death on 9/11, Maureen started two group homes for the autistic population on Long Island and The Jack Fanning Memorial Foundation, a non-profit association that supports research and education for the autistic.
- Una McHugh and her firefighter husband, Dennis wanted to instill a love for reading in their children. Dennis would routinely take his oldest child, Chloe, for special daddy-daughter times to local libraries and read to her. Since Dennis believed that literacy and education changes lives, Una founded the The Dennis McHugh Foundation after Dennis perished in the Twin Towers. The Foundation raised money and built a library in his name, which has become a place his children can visit to remember how their father lived instead of how he died.
The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is approaching. We hope that our film will contribute to America’s historical record by capturing the resilience, courage and undaunting human spirit embodied by these regular people who have survived extraordinary trauma. Making the next chapter in the story about recovery is the best way to honor the memories of all who died that day.
Once released, one hundred percent of the profits from the film will be donated to charities affiliated with 9/11 organizations, including: The Jack Fanning Memorial Foundation “Angels for Autism”, The Dennis McHugh Foundation and The Thomas R. Elsasser Fund.
You can be part of this effort.
We need help funding the film’s production. Please support our vision by making a tax-deductible donation to:
Sparky Productions ( the non-profit 501(C)(3) subsidiary of Gage & Gage Productions)
P.O. Box 903
Telluride, CO 81435
Please indicate on your check that the donation is for the 9/11 documentary film. Donors of $1,000 or more will be thanked in the film’s credits.
Andrea Garbarini and Andrea O’Hagan