9/11 survivors help rebuild in Bethel Acres
This week a group of volunteers from disaster-affected areas are in Bethel Acres to re-build a barn, destroyed in last year's tornadoes. The barn will be relocated from its former location to a lot across from the school district and serve as a riding therapy center for kids.
The group is called New York Says Thank You, and it came together after help poured in from across the country to rebuild after 9/11. While in Oklahoma members hope to inspire the next generation of kids to always rebuild after tough times.
"People like me, we burn our own vacation (to be here)," said Louisiana firefighter Eric Abney.
They chose Bethel Acres because of the May 19 tornado. With so much help pouring into Moore to respond to the EF-5 one day later, Bethel Acres was often an overlooked community. Bethel Public Schools reports 30 family's homes were destroyed in their district.
"It's scary to think about what you're used to isn't going to be there when you wake up tomorrow," recalled senior Bailey Thornburg.
Abney and the firefighters from his hometown are just a handful out of the hundreds of volunteers. They say they're just paying it forward.
"The people who came down to help us for Katrina was just unreal," he said.
Volunteers from New York Says Thank You move from tragedy to tragedy, bringing hammers to re-build and painted wooden stars from kids around the country.
The group says it's really important to get the kids involved. Bethel Acres students will make thousands of stars for the 9/12 Generation Project so other kids who have been affected by tragedy or disaster can put them up in their community.
"It may not seem like much but when you send these stars to disaster areas all over the world they're just little messages of hope," said junior Cody Gingrich while painting a star.
It's a way to bring people together to turn their disaster into something more meaningful.
"When they see something horrific it just helps when you have somebody else who has seen the same thing," Abney said.
After they finish the barn the project isn't over yet. On 9/12 they're asking Oklahoma kids to join in a nation-wide movement and sing the star-spangled banner at the same time at noon Central Time.