This year, we remember a hero.
Patrick O'Keefe was one the firefighters found in the stairwell of Tower One. As a member of the NYFD, he was honorable to begin with; Mr. O'Keefe was there to make sure the public got out on that bad morning in New York City.
Since his death, a foundation and a charity regatta has been created in his name. Here is his biography as written by The O'Keefe Foundation:
Firefighter Patrick O'Keefe was appointed to the FDNY on July 11, 1981. Graduating top in his class from the Fire Academy, Pat's first assignment was to Ladder Company 35. In January of 1991 at the urging of his good friend Captain Al Fuentes, FF O'Keefe requested and received a transfer to "Rescue One."
An accomplished carpenter, familiar with a broad range of tools, FF O'Keefe was in his element as a rescue fireman. In May 1991, with only four months in the company, FF O'Keefe's career as a rescue fireman began in earnest with the infamous Times Square rescue. A panicking civilian was about to jump from the 12th floor of the Times Square Building. On the order of Lt. Pat Brown, FF O'Keefe and FF Kevin Shea set out to rescue the jumper.
FF O'Keefe tied a rope to his waist, braced his feet on the parapet wall and lowered FF Shea from the roof to the 12th floor of the sky scraper. Once there, FF Shea "picked off" the jumper and with the rope still tied to FF O'Keefe's waist the two men were lowered to the 11th floor. This rescue was repeated on January 7, 1997 when on this day, two young girls were trapped on the 28th floor adjacent to a burning apartment. FF O'Keefe again acting as a human pulley, braced himself against the parapet wall and lowered his partners from the roof to save the lives of the two young women.
Ingenuity, the most effective tool of rescue firemen, was in full force at FF O'Keefe's next endeavor, the Chelsea Piers fire. On this day, FF O'Keefe and his fellow fighters were confronting a huge fire that was not responding to the tons of water being pumped onto it, at the newly renovated Chelsea Piers. FF O'Keefe being a certified scuba instructor, donned gear, dove underneath the piers and proceeded to fight the fire from under the water. Needless to say the Piers are still standing.
FF O'Keefe along with many of his "brothers" died on September 11, 2001 while operating at Manhattan 5th Alarm Box 8087 at the "North Tower" 2 World Trade Center.
Simply put, FF O'Keefe was a very "good" man. From champion of the underdog on the playgrounds of his youth; to carpenter for hurricane victims in the Dominican Republic, O'Keefe never missed an opportunity to help others. The needs of others always came first with this Irishman steeped in the art of hospitality and good cheer. As a woodsman, yachtsman, carpenter, and chef, Patrick O'Keefe shared his God given talents generously with everyone who expressed even the slightest interest. Legend has it, when two young immigrant men with whom he was acquainted, mentioned to him that they had never seen the Ocean, within the week Patrick had them sailing from the Great South Bay to the Atlantic.
And so he is today,"Still Riding"
To donate the Patrick O'Keefe foundation, donate here.
To join in tomorrow's walk in Long Beach, New York, go here.
To join in the regatta, sign up here.