Category: Archive

Echo presents Emerald Fund check on behalf of readers

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

The check was handed over in the most appropriate place possible — a New York City fire house with a police precinct right next door.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, the Irish Echo set up the Emerald Fund.

The intention was to collect money from Echo readers to be used by the New York police and fire department Emerald Societies in any way they saw fit, though specifically in the context of the Word Trade Center tragedy.

Echo readers from all over the country sent in their donations and the result was a check for $65,000 presented Monday by outgoing Echo publisher Claire O’Gara Grimes.

The ceremony took place against the backdrop of two fire trucks in the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, home of Ladder Company 108 and Engine Company 216.

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The fire house, which is in the same building complex as the NYPD’s 90th Precinct, has been a second home for the last 27 years to Bill Whelan, current president of the Fire Department Emerald Society.

Whelan jointly accepted the check along with Ed Connolly, recently elected president of the Police Department Emerald Society.

In accepting the check, Connolly, whose Irish roots are in County Galway, said that he wanted to thank all the Echo readers who had contributed so generously to the fund.

Whelan, a firefighter for 32 years in all, took the opportunity to pay particular tribute to fallen Irish-American firefighter Daniel Suhr of Engine 216.

Suhr, he said, had been a great family man, athlete and gentleman and would be sadly missed by all.

Suhr, along with his Engine 216 colleagues, was one of the first firefighters to arrive at the Trade Center after the attack. He was struck by the falling body of a person who had leaped from the burning top floors of one of the towers.

A big man, weighing about 240 pounds, not counting his heavy uniform and equipment, it took about eight firefighters to lift the injured Suhr to safety.

Suhr was to die from his injuries but his death was not entirely in vain. By moving him away from the tower, those firefighters who rushed to his aid were clear of the trade tower when it collapsed moments later.

“Daniel was a great guy. We do readings for the kids at the local school here in Williamsburg and he was their favorite. The kids always asked for Dan to read to them,” Whelan said.

Grimes said that the check, issued by Country Bank, was an appropriate tribute to the fallen heroes of Sept. 11.

She expressed gratitude to the Eemerald Societies for the their help and cooperation in setting up the fund, portions of which might be used to establish scholarships for children of firefighter and police emerald society members who died at the World Trade Center.

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