News clipping helps cancer patient prove he was at 9/11

News clipping helps cancer patient prove he was at 9/11

An outdated newspaper clipping from throughout the nation helped a most cancers affected person show he was on the World Commerce Middle on 9/11 — and obtain a six-figure award a long time later.

Spencer Cullum instructed The Put up he remembers being a terrified 9-year-old and coated in mud whereas together with his household on trip in downtown Manhattan when the Twin Towers collapsed after being struck by planes.

“There was one middle-aged man who had a handkerchief he was respiration via, and he ripped it in half and gave one half to me and my brother,” Cullum mentioned. 

A stranger gave Cullum and his brother half a handkerchief to breathe via as mud crammed the air.Spencer Cullum

He mentioned he had no method of figuring out on the time that the mud clouding the air can be blamed for the leukemia that ravaged his physique almost twenty years later — or that he would wrestle to show he was on the scene to get authorities advantages.

However Cullum was saved partially by an outdated article in his hometown paper during which his father griped that his son was kicked off a junior soccer crew as a result of it took the household so lengthy to get dwelling to the West Coast after Sept. 11, 2001. 

On the day of the assaults, Cullum, his dad and mom, 12-year-old sister and 10-year-old brother have been downtown ready to take the ferry trip to the Statue of Liberty when the primary jet, hijacked by terrorists, struck the North Tower. Onlookers together with the household weren’t certain what had occurred, in order that they moved in nearer to have a look, he recalled. Then, they noticed the second hijacked aircraft hit the South Tower.

Cullum and his household have been photographed with the Twin Towers behind them simply days earlier than they have been demolished by terrorists.Spencer Cullum

“We all of a sudden heard this actually loud noise, it flew proper over our heads,” Cullum recalled. “Despite the fact that it was 50, 60 tales up, it was so loud that I assumed it was scraping the bottom, like that’s how loud the engines have been.” 

At that time, everybody began again up into Battery Park, he mentioned, attempting to determine what was happening. 

“My brother and I have been watching, we might see human figures bounce from the buildings,” he mentioned. “We have been asking about them. My mother saved attempting to maintain us from trying.” 

A clipping concerning the Cullum household’s expertise helped Cullum show his most cancers was linked to 9/11.Spencer Cullum

The clipping featured Cullum’s father complaining that his son was kicked off a soccer as a result of it took the household so lengthy to get dwelling after Sept. 11, 2001. Spencer Cullum

Cullum and his household witnessed the aircraft moments earlier than crashing into the towers and watched folks leaping from the buildings.Spencer Cullum

When the towers fell, the household joined others inside a downtown enterprise in search of refuge. That’s the place the person provided him a chunk of fabric to breathe via.

“We have been utterly coated in grey, like stage make-up or one thing,” he recalled. 

The household lastly made it again to their Occasions Sq. lodge on a metropolis bus later that day. That they had aircraft tickets, however the airports have been shut down amid the emergency. So the household rented a automobile and drove to Canada the place that they had kinfolk and will hunker down till a flight again to the West Coast was obtainable, Cullum mentioned. 

They stayed up north for a number of days, he mentioned, “till all the things began to return to regular and we might fly dwelling once more.”

Whereas Cullum was gone, he missed his soccer crew’s two first video games and was mechanically disqualified for the remainder of the season, a truth his father angrily shared with a neighborhood paper on the time – not realizing how necessary the story would change into to his son sooner or later.

Quick-forward almost twenty years to 2019, when Cullum had simply completed up grad college at St. John’s in New Mexico and began a junior-high-school instructing job. That’s when he turned gravely unwell and was identified with leukemia.

The sickness put him within the ICU at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., for six weeks.

“I had a whole bunch and hundreds of {dollars} in medical debt,” he recalled. 

Cullum utilized to the Sept. 11 Sufferer’s Compensation Fund, however he was denied.

This system needed him to have non-relatives vouch that he was in Decrease Manhattan on Sept. 11. However he solely had household with him.

Cullum was awarded six figures by the Sept. 11 Sufferer’s Compensation Fund.Spencer Cullum

That’s when the newspaper story about his father venting that he acquired kicked off his crew turned essential.

“Nobody might have predicted, you understand, 20 years later, that we have been going to want that proof to corroborate the story,” mentioned Cullum’s lawyer, Beth Jablon, of Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo PC.

The fund issued Cullum a six-figure award March 28, Jablon mentioned. 

Cullum mentioned his expertise on the World Commerce Middle on 9/11 has made him a greater individual.Spencer Cullum

The lawyer has since amended Cullum’s unique declare to get him cash to cowl the wages he might have made if he had been in a position to work proper out of faculty.

Collum declined to disclose the precise award quantity however mentioned that up to now, it has been sufficient cash to purchase property and construct a home the place he lives together with his spouse in Santa Fe, NM.

He mentioned he’s nonetheless struggling the consequences of the assaults and expects to get a knee alternative quickly.

However he added that when he thinks being on the World Commerce Middle that day, he seems like he’s a greater individual due to it. 

“After I have a look at who I’m, as a son and a brother and a husband, and an individual, I’m very grateful,” he mentioned.

“I feel that the struggling that I endured has actually sharpened and adjusted my view of my life and my function. I don’t know that I’ve the power to say that I’d select to undergo it once more. However having gone via it, I’m grateful for most of the ways in which it’s affected me.” 

Further reporting by Desheania Andrews

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