9/11 Stories: John Feal


Now the leading 9/11 community advocate, John Feal joined the rescue and recovery at Ground Zero only twelve hours after the collapse of the twin towers. He worked on “the pile” just five-and-a-half days before he suffered what is considered the worst injury of the clean-up and recovery. On September 17, 8,000 pounds of steel crushed Feal’s foot. John spent 11 weeks in the hospital, surviving gangrene and sepsis. He was told he might lose his entire leg below the knee, and feels fortunate to have lost “only” half of a foot. He says he is lucky because he is still here, close to 20 years later, doing what he loves: helping people. It was maybe two to three days after his release from North Shore University Hospital in Plainview, Long island when John sought therapy: mental health therapy. It was at group therapy where he first met other ailing 9/11 first responders, suffering a slew of health issues no one could explain. John Feal launched The Feal Good Foundation, to help these ailing 9/11responders with the basics: food on table and rides to chemotherapy. The numbers of ailing first responders grew. They needed more than volunteerism. They needed legislation. John Feal, the advocate, was born. This barely high school graduate has helped pass 13 pieces of legislation, not only helping ailing 9/11 first responders, but some 400-thousand others who were exposed to the cancer-causing 9/11 dust . Most don’t realize their health issues are scientifically linked to the 9/11 toxins or that protections are in place if they get sick in the future. Feal continues his mission to help them. When John Feal dies, he wants a simple tombstone with no name, no dates, just two words on his tombstone: “He Tried”.