Please take a minute to read my friends story. He is one of the kindest, most compassionate people that I know.
My name is Chris Hillier and on September 11th 2001 I was just a regular guy. At the time I worked at the World Financial Center and had gone into work that morning just like everyone else. Then the towers were hit and as I stood some 200 feet from the second tower at the time of the impact, like everyone else in America I was forever changed, but as the days, weeks, and now years have gone by, I continue to be effected by those changes every single day. I can still feel the heat, hear the screams.
I am classified as a 9/11 first responder as a result of my actions that day. I remained at the site assisting fire and police with coordinating ferries and evacuating the downtown area. While others watched the horrors of that day unfold on television, I dodged the falling bodies of those who jumped, I smelled the smoke, I looked on as a couple in one window held hands, kissed, and jumped to their deaths, their bodies crashing to the pavement at my feet.
Every day I am thankful I survived. I am thankful for my incredibly supportive and loving wife and our three beautiful children, and I am thankful I have been here to watch them grow up as so many who were lost that day will never get to do with their children.
But despite my great fortune as a survivor, I will never be a regular guy like I was that morning.
I have spent twelve years in therapy fighting the demons that haunt me each and every day. I have nightmares every day. I have been diagnosed with obstructive airway disease, obstructive sleep apnea, malignant neoplasm of the skin, GERD, RADS, and most significantly with severe PTSD and psychogenic seizures due to my experiences that day. My seizures last from a few seconds to a few minutes and result in a loss of consciousness. When I come out of them I have no recollection, I relive that day with whoever is with me, and I require medication to calm back down and to sleep.
I have been to dark places within myself as a result. I have been rendered disabled and unable to work to support my family. I have contemplated suicide. If not for my family and friends, support groups and channeling my energy into positive things I know I wouldn’t have continued to survive. I have benefited from my work with the Feal Good Foundation which allowed me to travel to Washington, D.C. to speak to Senators and Congressmen working to get the James Zadroga 911 Health and Compensation Act reauthorized. Continuing to help others helps keep me strong.
I hope to continue to gain strength through helping others, but as my seizure disorder has worsened I am facing the loss of my driver’s license which is my outlet to the world, to my therapy, to my doctors. There’s a way to avoid that fate, but that option is quite costly and without being able to work I’m unable to afford it on my own. So today I come to you asking for help in securing a service animal.
The Faithful Friends Service Dog Foundation is an organization that trains service dogs to work with people like me. In addition to generally assisting with everyday tasks, these animals are able to sense an oncoming seizure before it hits, bring medication, summon help during a seizure, hit an emergency button preprogrammed to call 911, wake someone from night terrors, and to prevent panic situations and sense any change in mental status. The work they perform is incredible, but of course such an amazing benefit does not come without cost. Each service dog, due to their extensive training, costs approximately $20,000. If I were to have the benefit of a service animal I would be allowed to keep driving, to be an even more active part of the world and to keep helping others. Anything you could contribute would be greatly appreciated.
Chris and his family
Chris and Congressman Peter King in Washington, D.C.