NEW YORK — They ran toward gunfire, shielding students in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre.
Six weeks after the tragedy, Coach Aaron Feis and Athletic Director Chris Hixon were honored Thursday for their heroism. The families of both men were on hand at an emotional ceremony at One World Observatory in 1 World Trade Center.
The widows of both men were given financial assistance by the Tunnel to Towers Foundation in the form of checks for $50,000.
“He lived his life as a hero, he was a Navy veteran, he was a security monitor at school,” Coach Hixon’s widow Debra Hixon said of her late husband. “When the call came out that something was wrong he ran into that building – he didn’t have to do that.”
Coach Hixon’s 7-year-old son Corey also honored his dad.
Holding back tears, Ray and Josephine Feis – the grandparents of Aaron Feis who grew up on Long Island - spoke candidly about the countless stories they’ve heard from former students about their grandson.
“He was a hero before he died because of all the children he helped,” Ray Feis said. “They would have domestic problems or grade problems or whatever he was there to help them.”
Set up as an foundation to honor FDNY firefighters Stephen Siller and Captain Billy Burke, who lost their lives saving others on 9/11, the Tunnel To Towers Foundation has extended has extended a helping hand to first responders and their families across the country. This year the charity’s annual stair climb up 1WTC will honor both coaches and Captain Burke’s family couldn’t be more proud.
“Billy would have been honored to have this stair climb done in their memory,” Michael Burke said.
This year’s Tunnel To Towers stair climb takes place on June 4. For details on how to sign up, visit the T2TC website.