There were many heroes made on that life-changing September morning in 2011, when terrorists rammed two 747 commercial airliners into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Many New York Police Department first responders risked life and limb after the towers fell, and have since been suffering health problems brought on by exposure to the toxic environment around ground zero.

First responders braved intense smoke and heat, burning debris, and worse as they did whatever they could to recover survivors from the World Trade Center’s rubble. Many worked with little to no respiratory protection, using t-shirts, bandana, or paper masks to cover their mouths as they pressed on. As a result, many first responders are still suffering from a variety of illnesses.

Many of the first responders have reported struggling with respiratory illnesses, and those who worked in those critical hours have been reported to be at increased risk of thyroid cancer, melanoma, and lymphoma. Many other responders suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. An incredible 345 firefighters and 45 police officers who were at ground zero have died since 2011.

Various charities have been set up to help NYPD first responders. If you can afford it, please give back to these heroes, and thank them when you see them in the street.

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