Like most Americans, Brandi Bouchard watched
TV in horror, as the World Trade Center toppled into a mountain of
debris on the morning of September 11, 2001. Sadly, Brandi's own
life had been rocked a day earlier when doctors told her the large
lump on her thigh was a tumor.
"The day before, it seems like my life came crashing down," says
the 18-year-old from Sidney, Maine. "Then the next day, it was the
Within weeks, Brandi was diagnosed with synovial cell carcinoma,
a rare and aggressive form of cancer. By early October, the Maine
teen was undergoing chemotherapy treatments twice a month, which
left her achey and exhausted.
Although she was too sick to help with her school's 9/11 fund raiser,
Brandi couldn't forget the faces of the families looking for their
missing loved ones. So in November, when she was granted a wish
through the Make-a-Wish Foundation, she knew instantly what she
wanted to do. She would deliver guardian angel pins to the heroes
and victims of September 11.
"I got a lot of guardian angel pins from friends and family members
when I was sick and I believe they helped me," Brandi says. "My
treatment plan was supposed to be for a year. I was done with treatment
in four months."
In February, with her chemotherapy and radiation treatments behind
her, Brandi met with Make-a-Wish Foundation officials and let them
in on her plan. Finally, last June, she got to make her long-awaited
trip to the Big Apple.
After visiting Ground Zero, Brandi met with the New York City Police
Commissioner and Fire Chief. While she got to ride on a fire engine
and cruise aboard a police boat, Brandi says her most memorable
moments were spent with the families. Equally unforgettable was
the day she visited the Engine 28, Ladder 11 firehouse.
"They were all so nice," Brandi says about the firemen she met.
"After everything that happened, they just all wanted to do anything
I wanted to do. I could have asked for the world, and they would
have tried to give it to me."
Brandi wanted to return that generosity of spirit, a mission she
hopes she accomplished by presenting each person she met with a
little silver pin.
"I wanted to give them a little bit of hope," she says. "I wanted
to let them know they always had somebody looking over them, a guardian
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Hall of Heroes, click here