SEPTEMBER 2019 • LONGISLANDPRESS.COM 31
LIGHT AND HOPE
Teamsters Local 817 provided light trucks that helped first responders at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. (Getty Images)
HEROES WHO TURNED NIGHT INTO DAY AT GROUND ZERO NOW AILING
By MICHELLE GABRIELLE CENTAMORE
Teamsters Local 817 President Thomas J. O’Donnell was driving with his father in
New York City when he witnessed the first plane crash into the World Trade Center
on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
“We saw that plane hit the tower and we knew the country was under attack,” recalls
O’Donnell, who leads the Great Neck-based union that works in transportation,
casting, and locations for film, television, and Broadway productions.
Although his union’s members work in the entertainment industry, they were among
the many unsung heroes who responded to Ground Zero within hours and spent
days, weeks, and months after the attacks. And just like the first responders facing
severe health challenges, some members of the union have succumbed to cancers
caused by toxins present at Ground Zero. As a result, his members are among
those receiving support from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF),
funding for which was recently extended until 2090.
continued on page 32
THE OPIOID TAKE 5