NESCONSET, L.I.(PIX11)—Hundreds turned out for a walk-a-thon to remember the first responders who died after September 11th, and to raise money to build a memorial park in their honor.
There was a special groundbreaking ceremony for the park which will be built at the corner of Smithtown Boulevard and Gibbs Pond Road in Nesconset. It will feature a wall with the names of the fallen etched in stone, names that will undoubtedly continue to grow. More than 1,000 hero responders have died from 9/11 related illnesses in the weeks, months and years after the towers fell.
Eileen Ryan walked in her husband's memory. "Today is bittersweet for me," she said. "It brings up our loss, but it means a lot in his memory." Her husband, NYPD Sergeant Michael Ryan, lost his battle with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2007, after toiling in the toxic pit day after day.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who was instrumental in getting the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act passed, attended the fundraiser. "It is with great sadness and pride that I am here today," she said.
"Sadness for all those we have lost, and will lose in the future, and the tremendous pride for every single one of the people standing behind me who stood shoulder to shoulder over years and years to provide our heroes with the healthcare and dignity they certainly deserve."
The memorial park is expected to be completed in time for the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center.