Fallen BC alumnus honored during UCF football game

13 September

Knights fans donned a new color in addition to the typical black and gold on Saturday’s football game against Boston College.

Thousands of UCF students wore red bandannas to honor the memory of former BC student, Welles Crowther, who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks after saving the lives of 12 other people.

UCF students Neal Surrena and Garrett Weiss created the entire event on Facebook.

“There’s a big coincidence that it’s pretty much the 10-year anniversary to the 9/11 attacks, and I just thought it was great to honor a man who gave his life for 12 other people,” Weiss said.

Weiss, a 23-year-old engineering major, saw a video on ESPN.com about Crowther and posted a link to the video on Facebook. After Surrena, a freshman journalism major, saw the video, he and Weiss thought of the idea for students to wear red bandannas to the game.

The video describes Crowther’s life and how he lost it that day. When Crowther was a young boy in Nyack, N.Y., he carried around a red bandanna that his father gave him. Crowther’s mother, Allison, said it symbolized the link between Crowther and his father. Crowther went on to attend college at BC and played on the lacrosse team.

After graduating from BC in 1999, Crowther moved to New York City and began working in the south tower of the World Trade Center. During the attacks, he saved 12 people.

According to witness accounts in the ESPN.com video, Crowther appeared out of nowhere and said to the injured: “Everyone who can stand, stand now. If you can help others, do so.”

He helped 12 people make it from the 78th floor down to the 61st floor, where they met firefighters.

He made the decision to return to the 78th floor to try and save remaining survivors. Then, the tower collapsed. Crowther’s body was found six months later.

In May 2002, Crowther’s mother was reading an article about 9/11 survivors in The New York Times. A survivor in the story mentioned being rescued by a man wearing a red bandanna to cover his face. She mailed a photo of her son to the survivor to see if the man in the red bandanna was her son. After looking at the photo, the survivor confirmed that Welles Crowther was the man who saved her.

Surrena created a Facebook event for their idea on Sept. 4, and he started by inviting 30 of his friends. Word began to spread and in less than two hours, more than 1,000 guests had clicked “attending.”

Surrena said that Welles’ story inspired him because he majors in journalism, and he wanted UCF students to know his story.

“It inspired me because he stands for everything that I want to stand for, like determination, bravery and his heart, pretty much. It inspired me more than anything, and I just thought the people of UCF should see the video,” Surrena said. “If they want to wear the bandanna, it’s up to them.”

Weiss contacted the Orlando Sentinel once the event began to pick up momentum. Retailers in the UCF area began to run out of red bandannas, and guests began using Facebook to help others find bandannas in the area. Surrena said he went to various retailers in the area to see if they would donate bandannas, but he didn’t have much luck.

“That was kind of rough, but then we went to the SGA front office and they actually helped us a lot,” Surrena said.

SGA Vice President Adam Brock said organizations within the Interfraternity Council had ordered bandannas to participate in the event and provide them to other attendees. Alpha Tau Omega sold bandannas in front of the Student Union Friday.

All proceeds went to the Welles Crowther Charitable Trust, which was established by the Crowther family in 2001 and recognizes and awards young men and women serving their communities.

For the full article by Meghan Linder, visit the Central Florida Future.

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