Today marks the sixteenth anniversary of 9/11, a chapter in America’s most tragic history.
Across the country, there will be moments of silence for the 2,977 individuals who lost their lives in the World Trade Centers, Pentagon, and a field in western Pennsylvania, while friends and family members visit gravesites and makeshift memorials for their loved ones who perished.
For a new generation, today is a day that will only exist in textbooks, internet searches and stories of those killed in the attacks.
Amy King was only 29 years old when she died on 9/11. A Celoron native and graduate of Southwestern Central School and Jamestown Community College, King was a flight attendant on United Airlines Flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center.
“Amy was everybody’s friend,” said Tonie Wirsen, who became friends with King while attending Jamestown Community College. “She was a great girl whose life was cut short.”
According to her friends and family, Amy loved her community and was constantly putting others ahead of herself.
“She was one of a kind,” Jennifer Hinson, childhood friend, said. “I have yet to meet a person who cares more about others and puts their needs before their own more than Amy.”
In 2006, Wirsen, Hinson and a group of King’s friends from high school and college, hosted the first “All for Amy” Golf Tournament, an event designed to give back and keep King’s memory alive.
“We had no idea how to start (a golf tournament),” Wirsen said. “We just knew this was something we had to do for Amy.”
Proceeds from the inaugural tournament created a scholarship fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. To date, The “All for Amy” Fund has awarded over $20,000 to local students pursuing higher education.
One of those students who has been touched by King’s memory is Ryan Salemme.
Salemme, a 2013 Jamestown High school graduate, received dual degrees in Cell and Molecular Biology, and Political Science from John Carroll University. He is currently pursuing his M.D. at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine.
“My interest since high school has been to become a doctor and serve the Chautauqua community,” Salemme said. “With the help and support of scholarships from the community, particularly that in memory of Amy King, I have been able to pursue this dream.”
Salemme’s dream won’t be the only one being realized thanks to this group of women and King’s inspired legacy.
This year, the members of the “All for Amy” committee established a second fund at the Community Foundation as a way to continue doing good things in the community.
“One way or another (the members of the committee and I) have had some attachment to organizations and causes in this area,” Wirsen said. “This fund will allow us to continue giving locally in Amy’s memory.”
The committee’s plan is to divide the proceeds from the annual golf tournament and place half into the scholarship fund and the other half into the new fund, both administered by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.
“We think about Amy everyday,” Wirsen said. “She loved to give and help others; this is just our way of continuing that for her.”