Listen to these personal stories ...
Andy Stevens
Rhonda Messia
Diane Hunt
Olivia Brassard
Darrell Anderson
Phil Cronan
Andy Stevens
Rhonda Messia
Diane Hunt
Olivia Brassard
Darrell Anderson
Phil Cronan
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We Remember
 
Honored Dead: Victims of 9/11
 
Moments of remembrance on the South Shore and beyond
 
Stories of survival, heroics
 
Taunton man remembers the last day with his wife
 
Have things changed?
 
How attacks affected kids, and how are they now
 
Nationally
 
Brockton native decided how much to give 9/11 families
 
Graphic: Sequence of 9/11 events
Audio interviews and editing for this series were conducted by Cory Hopkins, Diana Schoberg, Ryan Menard, John Kelly, Andrew Lightman and Ken Johnson from The Patriot Ledger, and by Jean Porrazzo, Elaine Allegrini and Craig Murray from The Enterprise.
Site Design: Stephen Ide

 

More road race photos:

Marilou Moore of Weymouth
Marilou Moore of Weymouth was the overall female winner during the Fifth Annual Jeff Coombs Road Race/Walk.

From left, Ruth Albanese (298) of Weymouth, Jillian Smith (189), of Abington and Bill Moore (149) of Weymouth compete in the event.
From left, Ruth Albanese (298) of Weymouth, Jillian Smith (189), of Abington and Bill Moore (149) of Weymouth compete in the event.

 

 

File photo
After her father died during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Meaghan Coombs of Abington entered this essay in a contest called “What America Means to Me.”

‘AN AMAZING PERSON’

Losing dad

Meaghan Coombs is the 16-year-old daughter of Abington resident Jeffrey Coombs, who was a passenger on Flight 11.

In September of 2001, I had just turned 11. I was just beginning the sixth grade, and my biggest concern was what I was going
to wear to school in the morning.

Meaghan Coombs
EMILY J. NELSON/The Enterprise
Meaghan Coombs

I was still in that little girl stage, where everything in life is fun and stress-free. Well, five years later, here I am, 16 years old, and in my junior year of high school, and let me tell you, I have far more concerns than I did when I was in sixth grade.

In many ways, September 11th, 2001, the day my father Jeff passed away due to the terrorist attacks in New York, seems like yesterday. But then I look at myself, and time has seemed to fly by. So how has my life changed?

As an 11-year-old, you don't think about tomorrow, you take things for granted, and you usually don't stop to appreciate the small things and people you are graced with each day.

Five years later, I can definitely say that has changed. Growing up without a father in probably the five most important years of my life has been a struggle, and a learning experience.

Jeffrey Coombs
Jeffrey Coombs

My father was one of the most important people in my life, and one of my best friends. He was an amazing person who could literally make you smile by seeing his wide eyes and amazing grin.

Spending your childhood with such a special person and creating such a special bond and having it torn away from you with no warning is not something you witness every day. But I can say that it has made me a much stronger person.

In the past five years, I have become more mature than some adults are. I have learned most of life’s hardest lessons. I have experienced what being a family really means, and I have learned that if you are strong enough, you can handle everything that life hands you.

No, it has not been easy. There were times when I didn't think I was going to make it, but I can say, that I am a better person because of what I have been through.


New England Patriot Mike Vrabel signs an autograph for Bob Tedesco, left, of Kingston, at a charity auction in West Bridgewater.
EMILY NELSON/The Enterprise
New England Patriot Mike Vrabel signs an autograph for Bob Tedesco, left, of Kingston, at a charity auction in West Bridgewater.

Jeffrey Coombs Memorial Foundation

Estimated $40,000 raised in memory of Abington victim


For The Patriot Ledger

What began with Christy Coombs’ appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” culminated with a packed charity auction last night at the Charlie Horse bar and grill in West Bridgewater.

Coombs, an Abington resident whose husband Jeffrey, died when terrorists crashed United Flight 11 into one of the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, founded the Jeffrey Coombs Memorial Foundation, which hosted last night’s fundraiser.

“I was on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ for a show about single mothers and afterward she surprised me with a lot of autographed things,” said Coombs.

Those items, along with others, formed the centerpiece of a fundraiser that Coombs estimated would raise as much as $40,000.

Hundreds of guests walked the tables at the silent auction, eyeing prizes that ranged from the exotic, a seven-day stay at the Turks and Caicos Resort in the West Indies (minimum bid: $2,100), to the eclectic, a Super Soaker autographed by Grammy-winning rapper and producer Kanye West (minimum bid: $25). Friends and family said last night’s event was a perfect memorial for Jeffrey Coombs.

“Jeff would have loved this kind of atmosphere, at a bar with friends and a band,” said Jenny Balfour, who along with her husband had been friends with the Coombs since working with Jeffrey Coombs at Boston Financial Data Services in 1981.

Even those who never knew Coombs said it was amazing to see the number of people who paid $30 for tickets to last night’s shindig.

“It’s good to see people haven’t forgotten,” said Mike White, of Marshfield, who bid on a Houston Chronicle front page with Adam Vinatieri, Christian Fauria and Ken Walter celebrating the Patriots’ 32-29 win over Carolina in Super Bowl XLI.

Mike Vrabel, a Patriots linebacker who attended the auction, said the emotional impact of the attacks is still difficult to grasp.

“Everyone was impacted by 9/11, but to imagine how it feels and try to put yourself in the position of the family that was truly affected, it’s unbelievable,” said Vrabel.

Click to enlarge image

Tradition: More than 800 run in Coombs race

The Patriot Ledger

ABINGTON — More than 1,000 people attended the fifth annual Jeff Coombs Memorial Road Race to show support for the families who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks.

Coombs, an Abington father of three, died in the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, his family has established the Jeffrey Coombs Foundation, which raises money to assist families who are in financial need because of a death, illness or other situation that challenges the family budget.

More than 800 registered to participate in the five-kilometer race and more came out to show their support. The event is expected to raise about $20,000, said Coombs’s widow, Christie.

Christie Coombs
JEFF LOUGHLIN photos/The Patriot Ledger
Christie Coombs watches racers cross the finish line.

“It makes you look forward to doing it next year,” she said. “It makes it all worth while for all the hard work we put into it.”

“The original reason was to get the community together and support my family and support Jeff, and it’s still that, but it’s become so much more as well,” Coombs said.

She said she met one man at the race yesterday who usually skips road races because he dislikes the idea of paying to run. But he said he felt different about Coombs race and is happy to pay the registration fee.

Marie Martulonis (139) of Abington, left, and Melissa Miller (314) of Abington compete in the Fifth Annual Jeff Coombs Road Race/Walk.
Marie Martulonis (139) of Abington, left, and Melissa Miller (314) of Abington compete in the Fifth Annual Jeff Coombs Road Race/Walk.

The race was the third event held by the foundation in the past two weeks. An auction and concert brought in a combined $30,000.

Today, ESPN Radio is hosting a celebrity golf tournament to benefit the foundation. It is expected to raise about $10,000, Coombs said.

“The foundation has done pretty well this weekend,” she said.

For more information, visit jeffcoombsfund.org.

Top finishers

The top 10 men and their times were: Brendon O'Leary of Whitman, 17:10; Jason Cakouros of Milton, 18:26; George Itz of Weymouth, 19:01; Kyle Fredricks of Abington, 19:23; Joe Berry of Abington, 19:24; Jeffrey Carroll of Abington, 19:27; Keith Erwin of Whitman, 19:31; Christopher Cutter of E. Bridgewater, 19:38; Steve Houde of Medway, 19:49; Stephen Cutter of Whitman, 20:31.

The top 10 women were: Marilou Moore of Weymouth, 21:10; Diane McCarthy of East Bridgewater, 21:24; Katie Lysakowski of Ware, 21:58; Jackie Paige of Hanover, 22:36; Kathleen McCarthy of Scituate, 22:58; Jillian Smith of Abington, 23:08; Ruth Albanese of Weymouth, 23:11; Melissa Miller of Abington, 23:26; Marie Martulonis of Abington, 23:30; Cheryl Marquardt of Abington, 23:33.

Eleni Himaras may be reached at ehimaras@ledger.com.