Greetings! Allow me to introduce myself... my name is Shauni Kerkhoff. I am currently a senior at Temple University studying criminal justice and psychology. I am also a member of the women's soccer team here at Temple, but enough about me. For you to truly understand who I am and why I want to be a part of the ProRanger Program and the National Park Service, I need you to meet my hero and inspiration for everything that I do in life, Welles Crowther.
He was a tremendous athlete and a giving person, volunteering his time at the local fire station as a volunteer firefighter throughout his high school career. Ever since he was a child, he carried with him a red bandana that his father gave to him. His father told him the bandana stood for courage and Welles took that to heart. He carried that bandana everywhere with him. He always kept the bandana in his back pocket and he even wore it under his lacrosse helmet when he eventually played collegiate lacrosse for Boston College. In fact, Welles had it in his back pocket on September 11, 2001. Welles Crowther was an equities trader at the World Trade Center. His office was on the 103rd floor of the South Tower. Just after the first passenger plane hit the North Tower, Welles received a call from his college roommate, Howells. Just after Howells hung up with Welles, the second passenger plane hit the South Tower. That was the last the Crowther’s heard from their son.
Months after that horrible day, survival stories began to emerge. Mrs. Crowther was sure to read all of them, in hopes of reading that her son was safe. She read something entirely different. She read multiple stories in which the survivors stated that they were saved by a man in a red bandana. She knew that this mysterious savior was her son. She immediately sent pictures of her son to the survivors that reported being saved by the mysterious man in a red bandana. All survivors confirmed that they were saved by Welles Crowther. There were many acts of heroism that took place in the World Trade Center on the atrocious day, many of which were preformed by Welles. It is reported that Welles not only directed others to safety, he carried others to safety. One of the most heroic acts that was carried out by Welles that day, was the fact that he got several people to safety and then went back up in attempts to save more, without even thinking of his personal safety. Unfortunately, as Welles was ascending back up the stairway of the South Tower, the South Tower collapsed. Welles’ body was found on March 19, 2002 among the debris of the South Tower.
Welles Crowther is an inspiration to us all. What inspires me the most about Welles Crowther is the size of his heart as well as his selflessness. He gave his life in the pursuit to save others. If his heroic acts do not display his altruism, then the job application to be a firefighter for the NYFD that was found in his apartment should do just that. He shared thoughts with his father shortly before he passed about not wanting to be an equities trader anymore. Instead, he wanted to pursue a career as a New York City firefighter. He shared with his father that he just wanted to help people and he was not able to do that in an office. Welles and his heroic actions that day have not only had a significant influence on the lives of those that he saved, he has also been a significant influence in my life since I came across his story in 2011. After watching a documentary about his life and his final heroic acts, I had goose bumps. I was immediately confronted by a vast array of emotions; I was saddened that the world had lost such an amazing human being, but I was also happy for Welles because knowing the person that he was, I do not think that he would have changed a single thing that day. He lived his life to help others and he passed doing just that. He inspires me to do something meaningful with my life. Because of Welles, I have decided to dedicate my life to helping others in some way. He inspires me to be selfless and to put others’ needs ahead of my own and in doing so, he inspires me to be courageous. Because of Welles Crowther, I strive to be altruistic and selfless each and every day. Much like Welles, I simply cannot live my life in an office. I truly believe that Welles regretted not pursuing his true love and passion of firefighting and his story has influenced me to make sure that I have no regrets in life. I want to live a life that makes me happy and helps others in the process. This is why I have decided to be a part of the ProRanger Program.