A special gift was presented Wednesday to a September 11th first responder battling cancer, made in the name of a 9/11 hero who fought tirelessly to help sickened first responders in-need. NY1 Staten Island Reporter Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
With uncertain steps Wednesday, FDNY EMT Sal Turturici accepted a gift that will make getting around a little easier.
Suffering from liver cancer, the Staten Island father of three gets tired easily, and he says his new motorized wheelchair will give him a bit of his life back.
"It'll let me do the right thing and make sure that I can hang out with my kids, and be with my kids, and do it all, and make memories," Turturici said.
Turturici became an EMT just after 9/11. His first assignment: months of rescue and recovery work at the World Trade Center site.
When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer two years ago, doctors said it was the result of all the time he spent there.
A short time later, he met retired Firefighter Ray Pfeifer.
Pfeifer also suffered from a 9/11 cancer and was an advocate for the Zadroga Act, which provides health care to 9/11 first responders, survivors, and recovery workers.
"He would say, 'It's about time," Turturici recalled.
Pfeifer's illness didn't impair his advocacy, as he traveled dozens of times to Washington, D.C. It was during those trips that Pfeifer learned that some specialized medical equipment, like scooters and motorized chairs, are not covered by insurance.
After Pfeifer died in May, the Ray Pfeifer Foundation was created to assist in getting that specialized equipment.
"Help him out, get him mobility, because I know it was a big issue for my dad," said Terence Pfeifer, Ray Pfeifer's son. "For him to be able to get this is great."
The Ray Pfeifer Foundation is just four months old. In its infancy, the group is still working to compile a database of sickened first responders who could use its help.
Turturici's new scooter is the foundation's first gift.
Finding the next recipient shouldn't be much of a challenge: the city fire department estimates there are more than 10,000 of its members enrolled in the World Trade Center registry that suffer from various 9/11-related ailments, illnesses, and cancers.