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Wife of first responder on 9/11: Thank you for helping us get our lives back

“Thank you, Mozingo family, for helping us get our lives back.”

Cathy Brown was making pancakes in her Park Slope kitchen on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

Her husband, Peter, was a New York City firefighter. He was on his way into Manhattan when the first plane hit the North Tower.

Peter worked on the recovery effort at Ground Zero in the days and weeks after 9/11.

As with many survivors of that day, they suffered from the lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cathy said that she and her husband remember looking up at the New York City skyline and thinking that it would never feel whole again.

But one year after the terrorist attacks of that day, Cathy and her husband joined a special program, which offered a day of sailing for 9/11 rescue workers and their families in an effort to help them cope with PTSD.

On Sept. 7, 2002, the Browns went out on a day trip to Barnegat Bay, N.J. They were matched with the Mozingo family.

Larry Mozingo was a pilot; his wife, Ann, was a dentist. The Mozingo family spent the entire day with the Browns. They spoke about their fears, their nightmares and their endless attempts to feel whole again after losing so many friends, who, like Peter Brown, were first responders.

“We felt close with the Mozingo family immediately,” Cathy said.

The families spoke about the missing towers from the city sky and agreed that: “It looked just like a kid with his two front teeth kicked out.”

Her 3-year-old son, David, even received a gift from the Mozingo group: A fuzzy brown teddy bear wearing an American flag sweater.

“He still has that teddy bear today,” Cathy said.


Cathy Brown, her husband, and her son enjoy a day on the water to cope with their PTSD after 9/11.

Cathy Brown, her husband, and her son enjoy a day on the water to cope with their PTSD after 9/11.

While some may think of it as a “tiny kindness,” Cathy said the Mozingo family helped her and her husband get their lives back.

“They really helped us heal,” she said. “They helped us breathe again.”

So today, Cathy is still grateful that on that cool autumn morning, the New Jersey Yacht Club paired her up with the Mozingo family.

After that day, Cathy began volunteering, hoping to give back to the people who had lost so much that day.

And every winter season for the past 15 years, the two families have exchanged Christmas cards.

“We’ll always be grateful for that day,” Cathy said. “It was a turning point for us.”

Read Cathy's letter below: