Charity Spotlight: Michigan Remembers 9/11

A Michigan fund for remembering and honoring those who lost their lives on 9/11 for generations to come.

Michigan Remembers 9/11 wants to make sure the significance of the tragic events on September 11, 2001 lives on in the minds and hearts of Michiganders for generations to come. They know that high school graduates this year may not have any personal recollection of that day, though, and they are helping to educate our youth so that the tragedy of 9/11 will long be remembered.

In this charity spotlight I spoke with the Treasurer of Michigan Remembers 9/11, Scott Watkins.

Origin Story

On September 11, 2001, two of Scott’s colleagues, Patrick Anderson and Ilhan Geckil, were attending a conference at the World Trade Center when the first plane hit. Cell towers were completely jammed. Facebook and other means of getting immediate updates from family and friends did not exist. It took Patrick and Ilhan hours to get to away from the WTC buildings and use a land line to contact their family.

Scott’s friends survived this tragic day, but they will never forget the sight of first responders running to the catastrophe, not thinking they may lose their lives, just rushing to help save the lives of others.

Scott and Patrick founded Michigan Remembers 9/11 in 2007 to honor those who lost and risked their lives on that tragic day. They also want to make sure that first responders everywhere are honored for the service and risks they take every day.

Today

Michigan Remembers 9/11 has done extensive research to identify the people of Michigan who died or risked their lives on that tragic day and shared their stories on their In Remembrance site. They also maintain an interactive map of 9/11 memorials in the state of Michigan.

Each year they award three scholarships to the winners of an essay contest that asks junior and senior high school students to reflect on how the events of September 11, 2001 have had an impact on their life.

The charity also organizes an annual “Run to Remember.” This fundraiser is a 5K that reminds participants of the trek Stephen Siller made on foot with 60 pounds of gear, from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the Twin Towers, before giving his life saving others. Donations for this event send two Michigan first responders to the “Tunnel to Tower” run in New York, further honoring those who risk their lives on a daily basis.

Advice to Nonprofits

Scott’s advice for anyone wanting to start their own nonprofit is “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.” There are many lawyers and news stations that offer help nonprofits for little or no cost. All you have to do is reach out to them.

Big Wins

It required a great amount of time and effort to identify the people with Michigan connections who were directly impacted by 9/11. When this research was complete, they began sharing their stories, identifying memorials, and organizing events to honor their memory.

Participation in the charity really started to grow when Michigan Remembers 9/11 introduced their annual scholarship and 5K. Organizing these events is challenging, but for Scott and his peers, helping younger generations remember that day while honoring those affected by 9/11 is rewarding and well worth the effort.

Goals

The members of Michigan Remembers 9/11 want their remembrance and celebration to be engaging. They would love to see participation in their annual 5K to double or even triple.

The charity would also like to become more active throughout the year as well. To do this, they would like to start a heroes recognition program that, each month, rewards first responders for doing something special in the community.

Advice For Donors

Scott suggests donating to a cause that makes you feel good. Look to your local community and find opportunities where you can help. When you donate or volunteer locally, you have the best chance of seeing the results of your contribution.

Get Involved

If you want to learn more about Michigan Remembers 9/11, you can reach them using the links below.

Photographs Courtesy of Michigan Remembers 9/11